On the Road heads to Dodgeville
DODGEVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - Every Friday, NBC15 is traveling around south central Wisconsin to highlight the history and visit the hot spots of different cities this summer. This week, we stopped in Dodgeville.
Dodgeville Town Square
Dodgeville Town Square begins Saturday and will run through July 22, happening right on East Merrimac Street. The community is invited to come enjoy live music, bingo, a night market, a beer garden, and more.
Dodgeville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jenna Vondra said people can expect live music, a night market, bingo and tie dying, among other activities.
Each day is sponsored by a different local business.
House on the Rock
We’re also highlighting iconic parts of Iowa County, including House on the Rock. The average person spends about four hours walking through the museum of a house, carved into a side of a huge column of rock.
In 1945, a man named Alex Jordan began building a house on the top of a rock in Iowa County. The house grew, adding more rooms and more collections, displays and galleries. Everything about the experience is grand, from the 218-foot long infinity room with more than 3,000 windows, to the world’s biggest carousel in a room full of lights and sounds. The staff said Jordan was a middle class man living in Madison who had a passion for entertainment.
“For him, museums were a little bit boring back in the 40s and 50s and he wanted something to be much more entertaining,” House on the Rocks Human Resources Director Nancy Schaaf said. “He called himself an entertainer. And the more people that came here, the more money he had to work with and the more he could entertain… first by collecting and adding antiques, and eventually by adding all these whimsical things he created himself.”
The house is open every day from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Dodgeville Mayor Todd Novak said that although the town’s pace slowed down significantly during pandemic times, things are getting back to normal. Each year Dodgeville hosts a grilled cheese contest, and this year’s crowd was significantly up.
“I’m seeing a lot more traffic, a lot more tourists. It was pretty sad there for a while,” Novak said.
Novak added that Governor Dodge State Park in Dodgeville is one of the most visited state parks in Wisconsin.
There is a lot to do in Dodgeville now, including the beautiful Military Ridge State Trail. The 40-mile trail, in both Iowa and Dane counties, connects Dodgeville and Madison. It runs along the borders of Governor Dodge and Blue Mounds State Parks. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said the trail is an 1855 military route between Verona and Dodgeville.
In the middle of the Driftless Area is the home of famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Taliesin was his home for more than 50 years, but it was also his laboratory.
The home was built in 1911 in Spring Green. The Taliesin property is 800 acres and there are seven different buildings of Wright’s career. There are several barns that were transformed into housing for Wright’s family, staff and students that came to learn from the architect. Even a boarding school was built on the property, and it has been renovated into a theater, which is set to open in 2024.
“So Taliesin is a remarkable story, not only as the home of Wright, but it’s a very personal story to him, not only because it helps to tell the story of his over 50 years of living here, but it’s also a place of emotion and of celebration, but also of triumph and despair too,” said Taliesin Preservation Executive Director Carrie Rodamaker.
The Taliesin home was destroyed twice by fire- in 1925 by an electrical fire, and by arson in 1914 when seven people were killed.
You can learn about the history of the property and Lloyd Wright by taking a tour. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
American Player’s Theatre
Another spot in Iowa County that combines art with nature is the American Player’s Theatre in Spring Green.
Most people come a few hours before the shows to walk the trails and even pack a picnic to enjoy the many different parts of the 110-acre wooded property. It began in 1980 by a Shakespearean actor. To this day, the core of what the theatre presents are the works of Shakespeare. Artistic Director Brenda Devita said the beauty of the language and the nature leave an impact on audience members.
“It’s a really important thing for all of us to feel like we can go somewhere and and feel bigger when we leave and make more expanded and more,” Devita said. “I don’t know figuring out who it is that we are and I feel really proud of the of the work that we do here in that regard.”
APT is doing their first bilingual play of Romeo and Juliet in August. It is in ASL, American Sign Language, and spoken English. Romeo and Friar Lawrence are both deaf actors and the rest of the cast are all hearing and speaking actors. It opens in mid-August and everyone there was excited about it.
Next up, the team is headed to Paoli.
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