One man’s junk truly is another man’s treasure—at least where internationally renowned artist Howard Solomon is concerned.
Solomon has turned his own home into a castle, literally, displaying his unique works of art made out of scrap metal, old car parts, musical instruments, and whatever else society has chocked off as “junk.”
His one-of-a-kind kingdom in Ona, known simply as Solomon’s Castle, began with hundreds of aluminum sheets formerly used on a printing press. The shimmering panels gleam in the sunlight luring visitors from around the world.
His 70 acre paradise is open to the public and has been featured on BBC, PBS, CNN, Animal Planet, and the Better Home and Gardens Network.
When he was only four years old, Solomon was given a block of wood and a razor blade! He created his first piece of artwork by carving out two small cars in perfect detail on the small block of wood. It is now one of his featured pieces of art at the museum.
And his castle even has a moat. It doesn’t circle the castle, but it does have a ship that Solomon spent four years building complete with a restaurant. The Boat in the Moat restaurant boasts of their homemade meals offering dining inside and out. Although the moat itself is dry due to the drought, Hurricane Charley dumped so much rain a few years ago that the moat flooded.
I got my own glimpse into Solomon’s fairy tale land where it would almost seem natural for a princess to appear at any moment and wander off into the lush woods in search of her frog prince.
On a recent trip north to pick up our girls from summer camp, my friend Fran and I, decided to appease our curiosity and stop by Solomon’s Castle. We were greeted by Peggy, the “Plant Manager,” in the book and gift shop of the castle lobby.
She graciously gave us a tour of his fortress, humorously filling us in on how he got his somewhat bizarre ideas of using items like brake drums, hangers, and speaker parts to create animals, people, and other art objects. Trains, cars, and wood replicas of other famous artists are also a part of his intricate collection.
The inside doesn’t exactly replicate a castle because it is actually a museum. He does a great job displaying his creations and even invites his guests into his living quarters to see his handmade kitchen cabinets and elevator.
Solomon built a mini lighthouse in honor of the theme and claims to “Have never lost a ship.” His castle even has its own version of a bed and breakfast for an overnight stay at the Blue Moon Room. They also host tour groups, birthdays, weddings, and banquets on site.
The isolated mini kingdom is for the most part, isolated from the rest of the world. In other words, there isn’t anything else around. So this would be a good visit on your way to or back from somewhere else, unless you’re looking to spend the day there. The castle is closed August and September, but does reopen in October, just in time for tourist season.
For more info and directions check out: www.solomonscastle.com.