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Published: March 24th 2016
Solomon’s Castle, 4533 Solomon Rd., Ona, Florida.
$10 each got us a tour of this whimsical and fascinating castle that Howard Solomon, an artist of international fame, started building using “repurposed materials” in 1972. The castle is an amazing tribute to Mr. Solomon’s creativity and dexterity. Just the building itself is a phenomenal feat with over 80 fabulous stained glass pieces, hundreds of sculptural items fashioned from recycled items including a menagerie made out of metal clothes hangers and a fleet of toy size cars and other items made from beer cans, an incredible array of art montages (done is a ‘tribute’ style honoring artists like Modigliani and Picasso) and wood carvings all set in his dream castle on a few hundred acres in central Florida. The man not only thinks out of the box, but judging from the sheer volume of his own original art set around the Castle, Solomon seldom sleeps. Howard Solomon is hard at work welding and sculpting in his work shop each day. He will be 81 in May. Wes met him on a path as he was bringing in the daily mail.
Our docent, Faith, possessed a wonderful and
rare balance of scrip, humor and spontaneity as she guided our small group through the Castle and eventually into Howard Solomon’s private living quarters. Faith and her tour were splendid; she admitted her spiel was written by Howard Solomon and she “dasn’t deviate”! The talk is chock a block with puns which we all responded to with deep, good natured groans! You’d groan too when a plaster turtle with a woman’s wig near its posterior is identified as The Tortoise and the “hair”! “Howard made the newest addition out of aluminum and calls it his “Light House”.” A string of metal creatures with swords is the “Fence”! And on, and on!
Our group gave tour leader, Faith, an ovation and since the tour ended in the very cool garden restaurant, Wes and I stayed for lunch. The food and service were exceptional and, the bill reasonable. Smart marketing directed us to pay the bill in the artfully well-stocked gift shop. The entire operation is a family affair with Howard’s daughter in charge of the gift shop; son-in-law honchoing the restaurants (one of which is a pirate themed “boat in a moat” and other family members employed throughout!
Dropping by without a tour is no problem. Visitors can explore the grounds, enjoy the food and shop in the gift shop without paying an entrance fee. The $10 is for the highly recommended castle tour. Frankly, if and when we return to Solomon’s Castle, we’ll pay our tour fee again – that much quirky fun is well worth it.
Getting there --- We heeded the on-line instructions to “gas up” before we ventured into the virtual “no man’s land” that calls itself “Ona” and relied on our GPS – which worked despite the fact that “signal bars” began dropping off as we got closer to our destination. One thing to be very sure, it was well worth the trip!
Tot: 4.41s; Tpl: 0.045s; cc: 21; qc: 132; dbt: 0.0789s; 3; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.7mb