You would think that when you are going to see a castle that you are going to be on a long journey through the woods and over the hills to neverland. Awhile back, I visited such a place, just without the hills being in Florida. In Ona, Florida back in the middle of nowhere, there is a castle and lots to see. Meet Solomon’s Castle. When you are on your way to see the establishment, you pull on to the dirt road and find a parking spot in the clearing. There is a short walk to the entrance of the property and there it is in front of you. Howard Solomon converted his house into a castle and museum. Howard has been featured on television shows such as HGTV as he is an artist and sculpturest. Upon entering the property, I had no idea what to expect. I had heard about this place from other photographers and what a wonderful place it was to photograph.
As a visitor, you walk through the front gate and on the left side is the castle. As I looked over the castle, every inch has been planned and had something custom made for that location. The exterior of the house is covered with aluminum printing plates. This gives it a nice sliver shimmer look and I would assume that it also wears better that regular exterior house paint. The windows are custom made stained glass and there are a variety of yard sculptures that have been made with items that you would expect to see in a junkyard. Touring the property itself is free, however if you wish to go into the house and see the museum, there is a small fee. When I visited there about a year ago, I paid $10 to enter the castle. It’s a guided tour by a family member and they are very knowledgeable about all of the pieces. The first floor is where the museum is with all kinds of artwork that Howard has created. It’s truly amazing what some people come up with to make such interesting creations. There are humorous one liners that go with each piece as the guide drops these while you are going by. As you can see an example of one of the pieces below that was made out of scraps of metal to create a lion, it’s truly amazing.
The tour of the castle includes just about every room in the house except their personal space. We were even shown an elevator that he had created using a come along and a car battery to access other areas of the house. Due to the noise of this contraption, they often use the stairs. When we exited the castle, we were taken around the outside of the house where the sculptures kept coming. Below you will see some of Howard’s “fencing”. Here is the one liner: “These men are fencing…..no, not fencing the house, but fencing each other.” You have to have an open mind to really get some of these.
They allow you to walk around the property and see where he actually creates his pieces. It’s not uncommon to walk by and see Howard in action creating something new to add to the collection. Since he is quite a visionary, they even have their version of the Alamo. They call it the “Alashmo”. Again, there was a story that went along with this.
As I was walking around the property, I heard this strange sounding machine. It’s a car that Howard has pieced together. This goes with all of this other creations. He parked it under a tree and I stopped to take a few photographs.
They also have a nice place to eat there. You might wonder about eating somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, however I have to say that the food was very fairly priced and was very good. You have the option of eating in the boat that is the “Boat in the moat”. (I can’t make this stuff up.) It’s a ship that has tables and kitchen in it. Be forewarned, if you go in the summer, the boat will be hot inside. I opted to eat outside in the café area. There are nice shade trees and there was a slight breeze, which made for a very nice location to eat lunch.
If you are in the area, this might be an inexpensive attraction to go to. It is very photography friendly and the family is very nice as well. I had a chance to stop and talk with Howard himself and he was open to answering questions and explaining things. If you have never been, it’s worth the drive.
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean