One of the things Brian and I look forward to every summer is outdoor concerts and the Dead & Company summer tour. We love going to shows and bring our kids along for the ride because the road trips and weekend getaways that surround each show are full of adventures, hikes, fun activities, and memories that we’ll cherish forever. We concert at night and explore and play during the day. It sometimes seriously kicks our butts, but is worth every mile in the car and every sweaty mile hiked.
One of the other things I love about traveling to different cities for concerts is the road trip to get there and all the funky roadside attractions I find along the way to stop at. I love that stuff and while Brian often rolls his eyes at me when I tell him to stop, he almost always agrees that whatever we just saw was way more interesting than he thought it would be. One of those things on our recent summer road trip was The Living Rock Studios.
The Living Rock Studios is a two-story, 800 ton rock building, that contains 75 original wood carvings, 125 bird paintings, and seven one-of-a-kind Living Rock Pictures all created by Howard B. Taylor in Brownsville, Oregon.
When we arrived at Living Rock Studios, we weren’t sure what to expect. We knocked on the door and waited anxiously, and when a small elderly woman opened it wide with a friendly smile, all we could say was, “Wow!” At first, the inside of Living Rock Studios reminded us of a castle, with all of the walls made from stone. We were the only visitors at the time, so we received a personal tour of the studios from the creator’s daughter who was happy to tell us all about the history of the building (that she helped build), share old family stories, and even offer up facts about the surrounding area.
She also gave both of the kids flashlights and showed them how to use the lights to make rocks in the columns and walls glow. The kids loved this and even Brian and I tried it too! Next we were introduced to the Crystal Room with sparkling geodes in the walls and the Living Rock Pictures, which depict scenes from the Bible in mosaic rock and stone before heading upstairs to see the incredible Tree Of Life.
Living Rock Studios was fascinating. It was such an interesting stop and totally worth the detour.
About The Living Rock Studios
Howard Taylor worked as a surveyor for many years but in 1964, he had three strokes and a heart attack and his recovery was slow and painful. Unable to work, Howard learned oil painting and focused on his favorite subjects — birds.
As his health improved, Howard designed and built a lamp using thin slices of rock instead of glass and once the lamp was turned on, the colors in the rocks glowed beautifully. This inspired Taylor to create mosaic “paintings” of Bible scenes out of rock. He spent the next four years to creating The Living Rock Pictures and by illuminating them from behind, he achieved the same effect as the lamp.
Plans for The Living Rock Studios, designed around the perfect lighting for the seven Living Rock Pictures, began in the 1960s. For more than 50 years, he had collected rocks and petrified wood, and brought home specimens from work. Now, using the rocks he collected and some that were donated, Taylor and his family — including their children, grandchildren, and some volunteer labor — began building the studios one stone at a time. Construction took 10 years and it finally was completed and dedicated in 1985 on Howard and his wife Faye’s 50th Wedding Anniversary.
Howard passed away in 1996, three years after his wife Faye passed. Today the circular, two story, stone building stands in honor of Taylor’s passion and talents as a a surveyor, rock mason, painter, and artist. It is part museum and part art gallery, and inside you’ll find hundreds of rocks, paintings, carvings, memorabilia, and even pioneer artifacts. Two of his daughters open it for the public to enjoy and provide tours and share family stories.
Know Before You Go
- The Living Rock Studios is located at 911 West Bishop Way, Brownsville, Oregon 97327, Linn County about 3.5 miles off I-5 on Halsey-Sweet Home Highway 228 between Albany and Eugene.
- Howard B. Taylor, a surveyor, rock mason, painter, and artist built the home and today two of his daughters open it for the public to enjoy and even provide tours and family stories.
- The rock home and art studio is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- There is no official admission fee, but a donation of $3 per person is requested. Cash only.
- Living Rock Studios is made of over 800 tons of rock and contains 75 original wood carvings, 125 bird paintings, and seven one-of-a-kind Living Rock Pictures.
- The studios is wheelchair accessible, but the ground and walkways are uneven. There are also many jagged edges on the rock walls and columns, so you need to be careful walking through it.