Alex Jordan, Jr.

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Alexander John Jordan, Jr. (March 3, 1914, Madison, Wisconsin – November 6, 1989) was best known as the creator of the House on the Rock, an eccentric architectural and entertainment attraction in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Published information on Jordan's life is scarce. There are two biographies, both self-published. One is an unsympathetic 1990 biography by Marv Balousek,[1] a newspaper reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal, who describes his book as "an unauthorized biography, ...not been sanctioned by the new owner of The House on the Rock, nor by those closest to Alex Jordan. Jennie Olson, his companion of 50 years, declined to be interviewed; so did Don Martin, who helped build every exhibit." A 1991 "authorized biography" by Doug Moe[2] was published by The House on the Rock and is sold in its gift shop. Moe had access to and quotes Jennie Olson, Don Martin, and others not accessible to Balousek.

Balousek describes Jordan as "a shadowy figure as reclusive as the late multi-millionaire Howard Hughes"[3] Moe agrees that "Alex Jordan did not like or seek personal publicity."[4]

Jordan tried a variety of conventional paths in life before focusing on his childhood love of architecture and electronic gadgets. Atop his favorite wilderness retreat, the 450' tall Deer Shelter Rock, Jordan began construction of a peculiar Japanese House in 1945. The structure imitated the "fusion with nature" design style of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Although he initially tried to keep curious onlookers away, Jordan found that he could finance additional electronic and architectural projects at the site by charging a tour fee. Using this money, Jordan continued to build his complex of uncommon interests until his death in 1989, aged 75.

In March 1964, Alex traveled with friend Homer Fieldhouse to New York to help landscape the Wisconsin Pavilion exhibit at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. Fieldhouse had been hired by Wisconsin's Lieutenant Governor, Jack Olson, to do the outdoor landscaping and to construct an indoor waterfall.[5] Of particular interest to Alex was a "talking" Abraham Lincoln, an audio-animatronic robot.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Balousek, Marv (1990). House of Alex: A true story of architecture and art; greed, deception and blackmail. Oregon, Wisconsin: Waubesa Press. ISBN 1-878569-06-6.  (Waubesa Press is a subsidy imprint). Balousek describes himself as "a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison since 1981," and the book is said to be based on three months of research which led to a four-part series published in the Wisconsin State Journal.
  2. ^ Moe, Doug (1991). Alex Jordan: Architect of his Own Dream. House of Wyoming Valley, Inc. ISBN 0-9630207-0-6. ; The spine shows simply "The House on the Rock" as the publisher's imprint. The back cover bears the House on the Rock corporate logo and the legend "The Authorized Biography." The author is described as a "magazine journalist" and "associate editor of Madison Magazine.
  3. ^ Moe 1990, p. 7
  4. ^ Moe 1991, p. 2
  5. ^ Moe 1991, p. 69-73
  6. ^ Moe 1991, p. 66-67

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