When my sister sent me the website link for Solomon’s Castle, and suggested we go there when I visited, I wasn’t quite sure about it. Frommer’s called it the Weirdest and Wackiest of Florida. It sounded like it could be either really stupid, or really fun, and I wasn’t quite sure which.
But go we did, and I’d definitely put it in the fun category, and would certainly recommend it.
Artist Harold Solomon started building this castle in the 1970’s. The exterior is coated with discarded aluminum printing plates. On the opposite side of the plates, you can see the image of the news that was printed with them.
The windows are all either stained glass or etched glass (created by Mr. Solomon, of course). The entrance to the castle is guarded by two knights – one black, and one white, named “Knight and Day”. Or maybe that’s “Night and Day”.
The castle tour is a pun-filled monologue, evidently sometimes given by Mr. Solomon himself, though we had a different tour guide. You get to see room after room of creative artwork, mostly either made from carved wood or junk such as metal parts or wire coat hangers.
The “paintings” on the wall are made of carved and painted wood pieces. Most of them are recreations of famous paintings, such as this one of “The Scream”.
A wild sense of humor abounds, such as in pieces like “The fish that got away“, or the WMD – Weapons of Mouse Destruction. The “Picture window” boasts an assortment of antique cameras on the windowsill. There was even a knitting-related piece. The guide showed us the oldest piece in the collection – a small carved wooden vehicle that he said Mr. Solomon made when he was four years old (!!), the wheels of which were cross-sections of his mother’s wooden knitting needle.
And that’s just the castle. Then there’s the grounds. Behind the house is the “Boat in the Moat” – what he claims is a 1/3 scale model of the Santa Maria. It’s built in a “moat” which is sometimes filled with water, although at our visit, it just looked a bit swampy at the bottom. There’s a restaurant inside the boat (and extending out to a patio behind it), which is run by Mr. Solomon’s daughter and son-in-law.
We’d heard good things about the Boat in the Moat restaurant, and we were not disappointed. The food is good home-style made-from-scratch cooking. We finished our lunch with a slice of their famous walnut pie, which was incredible – somewhat like pecan pie, but not nearly as sweet.
After lunch we wandered around the property, seeing the “Chocolate House” where Mr. Solomon’s daughter lives – the thick, textured coating on the house is the color of chocolate, Mr. Solomon’s huge workshop filled with a jaw-dropping assortment of tools, and finally, one of the newest additions to the property – a smaller version of the Alamo.
We were delighted to find that Mr. Solomon himself was in the Alamo, so we got to chat with him for a few minutes. He’s 74 now, and clearly still going strong.
I’m really glad we went – it’s certainly something you won’t experience anywhere else. But if you want to go, you may want to go soon, since Mr. Solomon isn’t getting any younger. And the castle is available for purchase. Hear that CarrieK? Tell your mother.