Sunday, January 13, 2019

Solomon's Castle, Ona, Florida

We went to visit Solomon's Castle, another quirky Roadside America place to visit. They hold tours every half hour or so and our tour guide was very informative and knew a lot about Mr. Solomon and the castle. 

Howard Solomon

Howard Solomon died in 2016 but his dream lives on through his family and lots of valued friends. Until his death he was still active in the day to day operations of the castle and creating art.  The original 40 acres of swampland has now grown to 90 acres. Howard originally bought the 40 acres of swamp in 1972 and he and his family lived in a double-wide trailer while building the castle.  He started with a workshop and built up and out from there.  After seven years, the Solomon family was able to move into their new home.

Solomon's Castle covers 12,000 square feet and stands three stories high. It's almost impossible to photograph in the blinding Florida sun, as Solomon has covered every exterior surface with discarded aluminum printing plates. The broad, sweeping brick walkway that leads to it is impressive, until Solomon points out that the "bricks" have simply been painted on poured cement. Whereas other men fight and die for their castles, Howard Solomon fights to keep from laughing at it.

Solomon began building his castle in 1972. He had moved back to the States from the Bahamas looking for a quiet place to work, and found it in a Central Florida swamp. But when he discovered that the land he'd bought didn't have enough high ground to build the horizontal building he wanted, he decided to build vertical. "I never was a very good planner," he admits. "I decided, 'Well, if I'm gonna go up, I might as well pick a style'."

Essentially, the castle serves as an exhibition gallery for several hundred pieces of Solomon's sculptures. A gun that shoots toilet plungers is used "for flushing out perpetrators." The "Car With a V-8 Engine" has a power plant made out of you-know-what cans. 

Solomon's last project was the "Boat in the Moat," a 60-foot replica of a 16th century Portuguese Galleon that serves as the castle's restaurant. We had lunch before we took our tour. Food is excellent and they have a good variety. They also serve beer, if you want more. There was also a singer serenading the patrons.

The latest addition to the castle grounds is for foundering sailors and wayward cowboys. "Lily Light" is their lighthouse by the moat complete with stained glass windows and adjacent pavilion. 

Inside the castle hosts Howard Soloman's many years of creations - metal works, wood pictures, and stained glass. His creations were made from recycled materials; some of these objects include discarded nuts and bolts, beer cans, sea shells, oil drums, sheet metal and wood.

These three figures sit on the couch in the entry way. I don't know who they are; we were told but I don't recall, so I decided to call them The Three Amigos.



Baseball Players

Beer Can Chair


Giant Chess Set

Chinese Fire Hydrant

Court Jester


Evil Kornevil

Another great object of art is "Jeb the Bushman".  It's an elephant made from several oil drums with the tusks made out of manatee ribs (don't ask) and toenails made out of clam shells

Liz Taylor Cleopatra

Metal Horse


Mouse Trap

Norman Rockwell

Be '97

Piano Man

Primitive Engine

Sax Man

Self Portrait

Small Car

Uncle Jones Trucking

Venus Up Date

Woody Goody

There is a lot of acreage around the castle and they created a trail around the swamp, which was quite beautiful. There are some very large and old trees.

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