Why visit Solomon’s Castle in Ona, Florida? There is a castle nestled within Florida’s wilderness that is truly a special place to visit. Those who’ve heard about it tend to have a lot of questions about it. And we’ve going to open the door to the mystery that is Solomon’s Castle.
Upon looking at the exterior, one might get the idea that they’re looking at some sort of themed restaurant or other odd attraction. But some may not know that the castle holds within its walls decades of Harold Solomon’s artwork.
The castle is a little bit home, a little bit art gallery, and a little bit art studio and the ultimate manifestation of one man’s life’s work. So, let’s take a look at Solomon’s Castle in Ona, Florida – Why You Should Visit.
What’s the Story Behind Solomon’s Castle?
Solomon’s Castle isn’t your typical medieval fortress. This is the most obvious fact, as its not hundreds of years old and it wasn’t constructed for a knight or a king. Howard Solomon, an eclectic artist, built this castle.
Solomon bought the 40 acres of swampland in Florida in the 70s and then decided to construct a castle. But the castle wasn’t built in the manner one would expect a castle to be built.
Instead of building the structure in the traditional way, with typical building materials, he began erecting the building using aluminum printing plates. He bought the plates cheaply from a newspaper that was going out of business.
In an ad the newspaper used to sell the plates, Solomon reportedly learned that people could use them to make chicken coops. He then surmised that he might be able to build his castle with them. Supposedly, if you peel away the plates, you can still see newspaper prints from decades ago. Solomon proceeded to spend the next 15 years, working daily, to build his castle.
When the castle was finished, Solomon moves his family into the castle. Howard then continued to build on the recycling theme creating art using other folk’s discarded materials. He found much of it on his own and some of it locals would drop off to him.
Solomon lived in the castle until the day he died in 2016. Since then, four generations of Solomon’s have called Solomon’s Castle home. Though much of the area is open to the public and tours are offered, there is still part of the castle that is cut off from public view as the Solomon family still lives on the main grounds.
Who Was Howard Solomon?
The late Howard Solomon was purportedly a strong yet soft-spoken man who never even finished high school. According to the Herald Tribune, the artist likened himself to “The DaVinci of Debris.” As such, there was not much the man could not do when it came to creating sculptures and art from other’s “garbage.”
Solomon did much more than build a castle for he and his family to live in. Her made a myriad of sculptures with what he deemed “found objects” — soda cans, hardware, oil drums, seas shells, sheet metal, wood. A talented welder, painter, and whimsical humorist – Solomon created a legacy of art out of what to others was just junk.
Inside Solomon’s Castle in Ona, Florida
Located at 4533 Solomon Rd in Ona, Florida 64 miles south of Tampa, the castle is sprawling with about 12,000 square feet of space. This is more impressive when you consider that it was built by just one man. He reportedly only even needed help when it came to handling the castle’s electrical work.
As he began gathering materials, Solomon reportedly told local farmers that he would be willing to take their “junk” off their hands. So, the locals began throwing their junk over Solomon’s gate. He’d gather the “donations” and use them for constructing the castle or adding to the sculptures within or art within the home.
Solomon’s “art” isn’t your ordinary everyday art. It is, in fact, an exemplification of how truly creative Howard Solomon was. A shining example of this is a chair that Solomon created out of nothing but beer cans.
He created sculptures from hangers and motor parts and just about anything you can imagine. A lot of his pieces are sort of sardonic versions of serious art from around the world such as “Cleopatra’s Gondola.”
The castle holds an extensive collection of 3D paintings as well as a collection of cars. His art is whimsical and humorous, and the works are all named with some form of wit that reveals his humor and personality. Oh, and there is also a restaurant on the grounds serving up a large menu of American fare and sweets as well as beer and wine coolers.
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