Solomon’s Castle

 Posted by at 5:06 am  New, Nick's Blog
Dec 252010
 

For years people have been telling us about this guy named Solomon, and about the castle he built for himself, way out in the citrus groves of central Florida. It was one of those places I figured we’d get to “someday” when we had nothing better to do. Well, someday came, and I’m sure glad it did!

Solomon’s Castle is the home, studio, and brainchild of artist/sculptor Howard Solomon. Howard built the place by hand, using scrounged building materials and junk to create an eclectic attraction that is well worth the time it takes to get there.

Castle outside 4

The outside of the castle is silver, and closer inspection reveals that Howard covered the exterior with used newspaper printing plates.  There is an amazing amount of detail that is easy to miss at first glance, such as the stained glass windows in the towers.

Castle tower

And what’s a castle without knights to protect the gates?

           White knight                      Black knight

We took a tour of Solomon’s Castle, and our guide was a fun lady who pointed out little things that display the artist’s quirky sense of humor. What the rest of us see as junk is raw material just waiting to be transformed into the visions floating around in Howard’s head.  Howard uses everything from old car parts and cast off appliances, to beer cans and scrap lumber in the creative process.

Catfish

Here are his Piston People, made out of old car pistons. Below them is a toy Ford tractor made out of a discarded gas can and a frying pan.

Piston people

Ford tractor

This painting is actually a mosaic made from bits of wood. Below that, old pipes, metal rods, and tin cans were transformed into this band of musicians.

Black musician

Band

Evil Kornevil is a motorcycle made out of an old corn picker. What a gift to see so much beauty in everyday junk!

Evil Kornevil motorcycle

I’ve seen a lot of guns in my time, but nothing like these contraptions!

Rifle

Gun

How would you like to meet up with this scary fellow in a dark alley?

Lion

Hmmm… Howard didn’t impress me as a Democrat!

Elephant face

Here’s Howard’s tribute to artist Norman Rockwell.

Norman Rockwell

The tour includes Howard and his wife Peggy’s living quarters on the second floor of the castle, where a self-portrait of the artist hangs on the wall.

Self portrait

These beautiful stained glass windows were in a small six sided room Howard built especially to accommodate a chandelier a friend gave him as a gift.

Stained glass dove

Stained glass parrots

Besides the castle, Howard also built the Boat in a Moat, a replica of a Spanish galleon, which is a restaurant, with an adjacent gift shop for those who work up an appetite playing tourist.

Boat 2

He even has his very own reproduction of the Alamo, in case you can’t get to Texas to see the original one.

Alamo

After the tour, we were honored to meet Howard, and he gave Terry and I a private tour of his workshop. Miss Terry loves tools, and Howard sure had a bunch of them!

Workshop

Workshop tools

We got to see some of Howard’s unfinished projects in the workshop.

Howard and sculpture

I can’t remember ever meeting anybody with a combination of so much talent, such a great sense of humor, and such a down to earth friendly personality. Howard is a gentle soul who makes you feel like a friend the first time you meet him.

Howard Solomon 3

He has a quick comeback for every question, such as when somebody asked him where he gets his inspiration, and he replied “Drugs and alcohol.”

If you haven’t made a trip to Solomon’s Castle yet, you owe it to yourself to put it in your travel itinerary. I guarantee you’ll get a few chuckles out of the experience, and if you’re like me, you’ll also be amazed at what a person can create when they let their imagination run wild.

Solomon’s Castle is located east of Bradenton, Florida, off State Route 64. For more information on the castle, hours of operation, and directions, visit the Solomon’s Castle website.

Terry and I want to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas, and all the best in the coming New Year. Living in a motorhome,  we don’t have a Christmas tree, and if we did, there wouldn’t be any presents to put under it, because we have all we need. We have each other, we have a family that we love, and we have friends like all of you. What more could anyone ever want or need? Each of you is a bright and shining star on the Christmas tree of our souls.

Thought For The Day –  Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  18 Responses to “Solomon’s Castle”

  1. Nick wrote – “I can’t remember ever meeting anybody with a combination of so much talent, such a great sense of humor, and such a down to earth friendly personality. Howard is a gentle soul who makes you feel like a friend the first time you meet him.”

    I met somebody just like that named Nick Russell. I stand in awe of you. Don’t you know that is exacty how so many of us see you and Miss Terry? You give us so much just by being you.

  2. Hi Nick,
    Solomon’s Castle is a treat! Food is great! I also got to meet Howard and visit his shop. he’s quite the guy.

    While you are in the area, look up the Lipizzaner Stallions. Their winter quarters are in the area and they have free admission to their practice sessions.

    I also don’t get up til the ‘crack of noon’. Other people don’t like it–tough. I can’t sleep at night.

    We are at volunteering at Paynes Creek Historical State Park in Bowling Green, Fl. If you will be in the area for a bit I sure would like to meet you folks. Let me know.

    DICK

  3. Merry Christmas, and thanks for taking the time to write your very fine blog!

  4. Another great “american” castle is Bishops Castle near Pueblo, CO.
    I am not sure it will ever be finished and the builder is a real character as well.
    As some comment in the below link, if you do not like strong political opinions (that may differ from yours) then don’t spend a lot of time visiting with Jim (Bishop).

    http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-2976820-bishop_castle_pueblo-i
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishop_Castle

    Rex

  5. Merry Christmass to you and Terry. Howard was our tour guide.What a blast.

  6. We have been to Solomon’s castle. They were busy so Howard led our tour, wonderful experience. We also have been to see the Lipizzaner stallions in that area. An all women team rides the horses. We got to see them practice their routines and got a tour of the stables. Neat experience. There are lots of small unusual attractions in most areas you visit. You just have to look for them.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New year to everyone. Love the thought for the day. So true.

  7. Merry Christmas Nick and Terry!! You are our “gift” every day we read your blog.

  8. Merry Christmas, Nick and Terry! We love your blog and it’s an inspiration to me when I do ours….you and Terry are a wonderful pair and a great gift to all of us who travel. Your readers (including us!) learn a lot from you…thanks for sharing your lives with us. Jeannie and Eldy

  9. So glad you made the time to go to “Castle”. It is a hoot. We have a Christmas tree in our motorhome. The end table lamps are attached to the end tables and we cable tie the tree to one of them after removing the lamp shade. Can even drive down the road with it up. Just like our house I put it up after Thanksgiving and take it down the day after New Year’s. I second the Lipizzaner stallions show. Wachula grows on you. That’s our legal domicile.

  10. We have been following your travels for almost two years now and believe me when I say that you guys are a bright star on our tree! We are frustrated wannabe gypsys that have to work several more years at our current jobs to pay for our rig and prepare financially for life on the road. Reading your daily blog is a highlight in our day that we look forward to. Thanks for helping us experience life on the road through you! Merry Christmas to you and Terry.

  11. Ooooo! One more reason for us to get to Florida! Howard Solomon looks like a gentle soul. Thanks for sharing his phenomenal castle! And a Merry Christmas to you and your phenomenal lady.

    Had to look up the spelling for phenomenal, so I want to get a lot of use out of it before I forget!

  12. What a great castle, I doubt if we will get to Florida anytime soon, thanks for the pictures. Nick thank you for your blog, it is the first thing I read in the morning. May you have a blessed holiday season.

  13. Merry Christmas, Nick and Terry. You are among the many blessings we find under our Christmas Tree this morning. You are welcome in our rolling home anytime. As always, oRV

  14. Enjoyed reading about your visit to Solomon’s Castle. We visited there a few years ago. Seeing your pictures I think we should go again. Had a nice lunch there, too. We also went to the Lipizzaner Stallion Show. Well worth a visit.

  15. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thanks for the daily laugh in your blog. We enjoy reading it every day. Denise and Bob Gray

  16. Merry Christmas Nick and Miss Terry. We enjoy sharing your travels and adventures. Yes, living in an RV fulltime is a wonderful adventrue and something that we wouldn’t trade for the world. We are truely blessed to have such great friends and family to share our travels. All our best to you both…..May God bless you both

    Mary and Frank
    The Postal Pair

  17. Nick,

    I hope you didn’t mind, I borrowed your thought for today to share with my family! The most truthful, most meaningful description of today I have heard. Hope you had a blessed day….. Thanks

  18. I know how you feel about the castle, been there and in fact Howard is my wife’s cousin,
    You need to sample Alane’s walnut pie YUMMY !!!!!!!! What a great man he is

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