If you love exploring the great state of Oregon, taking the road less traveled, and hunting down offbeat tourist attractions, then The Living Rock Studio has got to be on your list. Located in Brownsville (about halfway between Albany and Eugene), this unique structure is part art installation, part museum, and 100% a labor of family love that spans generations. Not gonna lie, guys—this place is kinda weird, but I mean that in the best way possible.
So what exactly is the Living Rock Studio? This is a place unlike any other. Starting back in 1964, Howard B. Taylor, who was then working as a surveyor, had a heart attack and a series of strokes that left him unable to continue working. However, as a creative and resourceful person, he wasn’t content to sit back and do nothing all day, so he started constructing a lamp using thin slices of rock that glowed when they were illuminated.
Inspired by his first project, he got the idea to put together seven mosaic art pieces pieced together from rocks he collected over the years from his job, featuring stories for the Bible such as the Flight to Egypt, Moses & the Burning Bush, and The Garden of Gethsemane. When these art pieces were lit up from behind they glowed like stained glass and highlighted the epic works of art.
These original seven pieces took nearly four years and after they were finished Taylor, along with his family, moved on to building the two-story, circular building the artwork is housed in. Completed and dedicated in 1985, the Living Rock Studios opened to the public.
In addition to the original art and construction done by Taylor, you’ll also find a well-curated museum of artifacts of the surrounding area, wood carvings, crystals, rocks, agates, and petrified wood. When visiting, you’ll need to bring a strong flashlight (the flashlight feature on your smartphone will get the job done, but the stronger the better) with you to illuminate the Living Rock Pictures. They often have some that visitors can use, but it’s best to bring your own.
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Though Howard passed away in 1996, his family members still own and manage the museum and facilitate the tours. When you visit the studios today, you’ll be guided by Penny Mackey (Taylor’s daughter) and her husband, David. The Mackeys are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, not just about the museum but about the whole area. And, though these pieces are definitely reflective of Taylor’s faith, visitors from all walks of life—both religious and non-religious—are welcome and will find much to marvel at.
The Rock Studio is free to tour, but they do have a suggested cash donation of $3 per person if you’re able. There’s also a small gift shop where you can purchase rocks and crystals, and a gorgeous 400 year old oak tree out front.
Also, part of the fun of discovering little spots like this is the journey, and Brownsville just happens to lie at the end of Hwy 228, also known as the “Over the Rivers and Through the Woods Scenic Byway.” Brownsville is one of the state’s oldest towns, founded in 1846 and even served as a movie set for the iconic Oregon film Stand By Me. You can also visit the neighboring towns of Crawfordsville, Sweet Home, and Cascadia while in the area which are all home to some of Oregon’s famous covered bridges.
Address: 911 West Bishop Way, Brownsville, Oregon
Hours: Wednesday - Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm