Solomon's Castle: a Quirky Kingdom

by Nathanael Nims /
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Apr 18, 2012 / 0 comments

When I think of castles I think of knights, drawbridges, vast lawns, horses, and kings. I don’t think of a Florida swamp and an aging artist in a captain’s hat. Not long ago I ventured into central Florida to see Solomon’s Castle. We packed our essentials, hats and water, and were off! Driving through the country was nice. I enjoyed seeing all the horses, goats, and farms. Farmers were burning cow dung that I thought smelled like bacon.


Finally, we saw a faded sign that said Solomon’s Castle this way. We pulled into the dirt parking lot, passing several workshops on the way, and got out at the grand iron gate. Then I saw my first glimpse of Solomon’s Castle.


It was very odd with its shining silver walls. It turns out that the outside of the castle is covered in recycled printing plates! There was a yellow brick road, stone horse with yellow hooves, black and white metal knights that he got from his own private dump, and a literal “flower bed”. The owner, maker, and designer, Howard Solomon, designed this entire castle just to house him, his wife, and all of his art!


Solomon's Castle



Once we bought our tickets, we explored the grounds which were as unique as the castle. A cute cat without a tail was curled up on a bench. On one side of the castle was a metal row of stick figures with swords called the “fencing fence.” Strangest of all, was the humungous pirate ship, the “Boat in the Moat.” Apparently, Howard had built this too. It had a covered boardwalk that led to the door of the ship. The funniest thing was that it was surrounded by only four inches of water!


The boat in the moat ended up being the restaurant where we had lunch. We learned that Howard's daughter ran and owned the Boat in the Moat restaurant. We relaxed on the patio under large Oak trees smelling the kitchen, listening to the clinking of dishes, the singing of birds and the chatter of people. It was a hot day so the nice breeze felt good. After we ordered we waited for about forty-five painstakingly long minutes for our food. I got a wonderfully cool turkey sandwich with chips. For dessert, I got this crazy good creamy, sweet, cinnamon ice cream that tasted wonderful on the warm day.


Finally, it was time for our tour. Mr. Solomon's wife opened a door in the entrance hall and we went in. When I first heard of Solomon’s Castle I thought it was only a house but once we were inside I saw nothing but art! The room was filled with many of Howard’s creations made out of ordinary household products. He used coat hanger wire to make life-size animals. He also used things like oil cans to make guns. It was very unique and cool. The room was kind of musty smelling. I was not surprised that the room was disorganized. 


We went into the next room where there was more artwork and the next with even more artwork. Solomon is one hard worker! Some of the pieces used real instruments. He sculpted a life size lion and elephant out of metal.


Once we were done looking at the art museum, we toured Solomon's living space.
His living/dining room was modest with an upright piano and TV. Mrs. Solomon showed us some amazing wood toys that Howard had made when he was just four years old. Then she lifted up a small hidden piece of carpet revealing a trap door. She opened the door and in the stone room was a fake dead “babysitter”!! Then we went into the small kitchen and breakfast nook. It was old but nice. The coolest thing was a homemade elevator that went through a hole in the ceiling and into their bedroom!


Mrs. Solomon told us of a path that went along the river. We took the path and we saw large puffy clouds, cattails, and an alligator! I heard the rustling of lizards. After we got off the trail we headed over to one of Howard’s workshops. As we passed the Boat in the Moat, we came across his private dump. People just give their junk and bikes to him. He said he wished people would stop bringing so much stuff. I saw a couple of nice bikes that I wouldn’t mind having for myself.


At one of the garages, I looked through the window and saw a restored 1930’s Ford. We also passed a very nice building that they were turning into a bed & breakfast. Then we came to one of his workshops. The door was open so I had to peek inside. It turned out to be a pretty average workshop. Oh well. However his replica of the Alamo was fantastic!


After a long afternoon exploring, we started back to the truck. Thank you, Mr. Solomon, for turning a Florida swamp into a quirky kingdom.

Nathanael Nims is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program

Photo courtesy and copyright Nathanael Nims