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Soloman's Castle in Ona Florida

I decided I wanted to visit a place I had never been. I zeroed in on Arcadia, Florida. It was a little less than a 3 hour drive from home and I had heard of Soloman's Castle but I really had no idea what it was all about and I did no research (easily done online) because I wanted to be surprised. Solomon’s castle is located at 4533 Solomon Rd, Ona, FL 33865.

So I arrived in Arcadia, ate a good breakfast, rode my bike for a couple of hours and then drove to the castle. OMG. What an insanely crazy and wonderful place.

Hurricane Ian hit Hardee County pretty good. Lots of trees were down in Arcadia and driving to the castle. There were many trees laying over the fence going around the property. The castle itself got hit with 3 feet of water inside but most of the art had been raised up in the rafters. The first 5 feet of the inside castle walls are made of Styrofoam which makes it easier to replace instead of old fashioned sheetrock. No inside pictures were allowed so I can't show you how it looked.

Howard Soloman, born in 1935 and died 2016. Howard arrived in the Hardee County in 1972. He was born in the 1930's, a child of the depression in New York. The cattle ranchers and citrus farmers didn't know what to make of him at first. He was Jewish and from New York. "A Jewish man from NY, Howard was different," says Dean Murphy, who was a boy living nearby when Howard Solomon arrived 42 years ago. "Before, it was all farmers and ranchers, redneck types. And here comes Howard, an artist with a totally different way of life. People had all kinds of off-the-wall theories about him. They wanted to know what he was doing."

Solomon had been living in the Bahamas. A friend told him about Hardee County because it had everything that Solomon wanted: Warm weather, open spaces and cheap land. He set up shop on the edge of a swamp and began building a house with his own hands. Howard had bought 40 acres of swampland in Florida in the 1970s and decided to build his castle. However, he didn’t go the traditional route. Instead of using conventional building materials, he began building it using aluminum printing plates on sale because a newspaper company was going out of business. They were selling them very cheap, and the ad Howard saw said that people could use them to make chicken coops, so he thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot and began building his castle from the ground up! If you peel off the plates, you can still see the newspaper printings from decades ago!

Over the next fifteen years, he spent every day working on the castle, despite everyone thinking there was no way he’ll be able to do it. However, he did.

Once the castle was complete, his family moved out of the trailer they had been living in and into their castle. Pictured above, are the front doors of the castle. That horse is very tall and was completely covered with water after Hurricane Ian. Also pictured are the Rooms To Go bathrooms.

Howard continued with the “reclaimed” theme, creating art using reclaimed materials. He found most of the material in the surrounding area, and locals would drop off their unwanted items. Art was made from 55 gallon drums, motorcycle and bicycle parts, airplane parts, oil cans, bike chains, etc. He threw nothing away and made art from it all. Neighbors used to throw their junk over his wall which Howard welcomes and invited them to do it.

After Howard had finished building the castle, he took on another project. He was making a boat in a moat that runs around the castle itself. The boat isn’t tiny. It’s a replica of a Portuguese ship, standing at 60 feet tall!

Today, that boat is a restaurant still run by Howard’s family, mainly his daughter. They wanted to keep everything running as Howard wanted it to. So there are still options on the Solomon’s Castle menu that he was obsessed with. Howard’s daughter and her children are usually onsite. They’ll be able to tell you all the inside details on everything that came to be, their lives living in the castle growing up, and all the other details you might want to know. All that while enjoying some delicious food! Inside the lighthouse he built is a private dining room for events. He build it for his son's wedding.

Next, you go on a cart and go for a ride on his property and over to his garages where you get to see his private collection of mint vintage cars, of which there were about 20 of them. You were again not allowed to take pictures inside. But this was the outside.

There was one old car outside but nothing like the mint ones inside the garage.


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