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Classic kitsch

The Rock in the House, Fountain City, Wis.

By Steve Lange

In April of 1995, a 55-ton boulder broke free from a nearby bluff and crashed into the home of Dwight and Maxine Anderson.

No one was killed, but Maxine had just remodeled the kitchen.
The Andersons moved out the next day. The rock, which had lodged itself in the bedroom, stayed. So John Burt, a real estate investor, bought the home with the rock inside, put up a sign shilling “The Rock in the House,” and opened it to tourists. An estimated 12,000 people visited during the attraction’s first six months.

Inside, the house looks basically like any other 1920s-built two story decorated in the early 1990s. The living room, basically untouched, features a television and couch. In lieu of the other furniture, display cases sit along one wall. The cases hold for-sale items, like T-shirts (“I Saw the Rock in the House”) and various rocks painted to look like, among other things, raccoons and puppy dogs.

When you open the back bedroom door, you see a 16-foot high, wheel-shaped rock. Or, in the words of the Rock in the House Web site: “Opening the bedroom door of the tidy home is a memorable reminder that nature easily dwarfs the normal scale of human experience! The rough boulder sits immobile, placidly filling the room with dirt and debris!”

And, if this story of a rock smashing into a house isn’t enough, here’s something that will be: In nearly the same spot, in 1901, a “rock weighing about five tons”—and this is from the Winona Republican Herald—”rolled down the side of the bluff and crashed through the roof of the house of Mr. and Mrs. Dubler shortly after midnight.” Mrs. Dubler, asleep in her bed, was killed instantly. Mr. Dubler, who was sleeping beside her, escaped with “a slight bruise on his forehead.”
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The Rock in the House
Get there: The Rock in the House, 440 North Shore Drive (Highway 35) in Fountain City, Wis. Cross the bridge in Winona and head north on 35. The Rock in the House is on the east side of the road in Fountain City.
When to go: Rock in the House is open every day from 10 am-6 pm. It’s all on the honor system. You stop in, look around, and leave a few bucks.
Which one is this?: No, this is not the House on the Rock (which is in Spring Green, Wis.). Rock in the House is a giant rock inside a medium-sized house. House on the Rock is two-and-a-half miles of sprawling, red-shag carpeted rooms marked by bizarre displays and baffling decor and one of the craziest tourist attractions we’ve ever seen. And we’ve seen some crazy tourist attractions.
For info: 608-687-6106;