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The wisdom behind visiting Solomon’s Castle

April 19, 2012

Here goes, the final segment for this round of YoFlo write-ups:

After an extended stay in St. Pete it was time to head reluctantly home, with one final stop planned for the trip back: Solomon’s Castle.

Even though this was one of the few itinerary items that we had planned before we left, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this place. I can tell you though, that as you make your way down the long country roads that lead you there, you definitely feel like you’re entering a world that shouldn’t exist in the same state as a city like Miami.

The only information that we had about the castle before arriving was that it was home to Howard Solomon, an artist and all-around creator who built the place with his own hands from the printing plates discarded by the local weekly newspaper. Which was all we really needed to know to want to visit.

Our first day in St. Pete, we learned that you could actually book a room and stay the night at the castle. We ended up not doing that because of my weird issues with imposing on people’s hospitality and the fact that we wanted to stay an extra night in town, but it definitely sounded intriguing. If you’re looking for something way out of the norm to do for a weekend I’d definitely consider staying the night there. Still, as things tend to, it ended up working out perfectly as we pulled up to the castle in the early afternoon.

It definitely takes a couple minutes just to take everything in when you first walk up the drive; between the “Boat in the Moat”, a behemoth vessel sunk into the swampy ground off to the side of the castle (which houses a restaurant), and the other odds and ends strewn about the grounds, you can’t help but be awed. And that’s not even mentioning the castle itself which was shining in the reflected sunlight.

Luckily, we made it there right before the last tour of the day was heading out so we were among only one or two other couples there. The castle’s gallery was a little tight in places so I definitely wouldn’t have relished being hustled through it in the midst of a big crowd. Plus it meant we got an almost personalized tour where we were able to talk to the woman walking us around and have an overall more convivial visit. And I say visit because it really feels like you’re being welcomed into this guy’s house and allowed to admire all the amazing things he’s come up with.

The gallery space is filled with creations made from every kind of odd or end you can think of, from a beer-can throne to animals made of wire hangers. There’s a definite emphasis on repurposed art, created from industrial parts of every size and shape. There’s also work from selected friends of Howard’s, things near and dear to him that he felt people should see. One of the standouts from those was a collection of merry-go-rounds made of old working record players so they actually spin.

All in all, the grounds stand as an homage not only to its owner, Solomon, but to creative people everywhere who have the conviction to do what they believe in despite the naysayers of the world. A monument standing tall and flashy amidst the swampy wilderness, welcoming people and inspiring others (myself included) to always listen to that voice in your head telling you what to do even though you’re the only one who hears it.

It was truly encouraging to see how this guy is able to enjoy his life completely surrounded by things and people he loves. He went the extra step of inviting the general public in for a glimpse of his world, which i guess is part of the reason I identify with/respect him so much. I can only hope that Yo Miami ends up being as pure and filled with innovation by the time it gets where it’s going.

On that note, I finish the coverage of my first (of many, hopefully) excursion to some of Florida’s more remote and worthwhile destinations. I hope in doing these write-ups that they’re able to inspire even one person to get out and see something new in this great state I call home. Also here’s the album with the rest of the pictures from my wanderings for more of the castle.

For a little added incentive here’s the view we got on our drive home from the castle:


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