Using what others have thrown out, this 12,000 sq ft castle is complete with towers, a moat, 80 stained glass windows (each with a story) and an electric elevator built from from junk. Thousands of aluminum printing plates discarded by a local newspaper down the road in Wauchula cover the entire shiny silver castle.
''I have a different perception of the concept of patience than most people,'' says Solomon, who built every square foot of the castle by himself, working with metal scraps he got for free, old car parts he got from a junkyard and rebuilt machinery he bought for 10 cents on the dollar."
''To me, patience is something that you need when you are doing things you don't like to do. My secret is that I just don't do things I don't like to do.''
The sculptor Howard Solomon bought the land in 1972 at the age of 47 for $350 an acre “because it was cheap and he was too” it was in the dry season, little did he know that it would become a swamp during the rainy months. Yet Howard is a resourceful guy; he built a levee and pumped the water out. He started building in 1974 with his out-of-the box thinking, he envisioned building a castle that would be his home—his dream of paradise. It took Solomon 21 years to create his dream. Then in 1993 he built a moat and as though his castle was not enough, Howard built a boat. Howard does things big, he built a full size 16th Century Spanish Galleon, complete with mast, sails, cannons, rigging, and decks. There are at least 200 pieces of Howard's work on display. He purchased adjacent land as it became available, and now family members live in the five houses on the 90-acre property and run the business.
Howard is skilled in over twenty trades that include welder, carpenter, painter, shipbuilder, cabinet maker, tinsmith, plumber, electrician, carver, artist, and others. Even though Solomon's teachers in Rochester, New York public schools told his parents he was borderline retarded. He failed 2nd grade but could do anything with his hands.
He wasn't mentally handicapped he was just bored.
"I was expelled from high school in the 10th grade, and the punishment was they sent me to an industrial school," he says. "That was a lucky break. I learned to be a machinist and a draftsman. I learned about woodworking and sheet metal. But before I graduated, they expelled me because my true calling was being a comedian, and nobody recognized that but me.”
He was an unlikely soldier but served in Korea. Later he followed his parents to Florida, settled in St. Petersburg with his wife and toiled as a carpenter. In 1962, Solomon moved his family to the Bahamas and began his career as an artist, he had galleries in Freeport, Bahamas and Miami, Fla. and engaged in a multitude of trades to hone his skills.
"The common thread of my art," he says "is I have to keep my hands busy."
Solomon's castle has been featured on numerous television programs and in publications around the world. It has appeared on CNN, HGTV’s ‘Extreme Homes’, and in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
You don’t need to be art connoisseur to admire a Solomon sculpture. All you need is a pair of eyes and a sense of humor.
Also on the property is an antique car museum that includes two cars Solomon was especially proud of — a 1915 ford Model T Speedster and a 1925 Ford Model T. The car museum is not accessible on the individual tours, but groups can make prior arrangements for it to be included on their visit.
Howard Solomon was born on May 27, 1935 and passed on August 23, 2016, the family had this to say about his passing: “Howard's Dear old heart just gave out at the age of 81. Surrounded by his Family, he peacefully passed away at home in his castle, just the way he wanted.”
Howard's Big Kingdom of Fantasy is really a 'Family Affair' including Daughters, Sons, Grandchildren and even a few friends and his wife Peggy who takes care of all the natural botanical wonders.
You don't always have to look to Ireland and Scotland if you want to explore a castle. Standing in a central Florida swamp, shining in the sun, is a hand-built medieval castle complete with a moat. Visit the home, galleries and workshop of internationally renowned artist Howard Solomon. Tour the Castle, walk the beautiful nature trails and enjoy a delightful lunch at the Boat in the Moat Restaurant. A wonderful place to spend a few hours, be entertained and have a great lunch.
For a unique overnight adventure spend the night in the castle's quarters available for rent. (occupancy of 2)
The Castle is also available for Weddings and private events & functions.
We spoke to Dean and Alane (Solomon) Murphy current proprietors who invite all to come visit the Solomon Castle. Located at 4533
Solomon Rd, Ona, FL 33865
-10 AM–4 PM Tuesday - Friday
-11 AM-4 PM Saturday & Sunday
-Closed on Mondays,
-The Castle is also be closed all
month in August & September.
For more info Call: (863) 494-6077