The Palace of Depression
South Mill Road
Vineland, New Jersey
Yay! Now, Yummy is getting into some fun!
(Okay, I had a blast!)
Nestled along a flowing stream, in Vineland, there is a place containing decades of history. The Palace of Depression, or also referred to as, the “Strangest House in the World.” It is a mystifying place… that will make you look around every corner… saying (and maybe to yourself or out loud, depending on how loony you really are) .. “What is that? Is that a bowling ball? Is that someone’s headstone?” There are truly new surprises around each nook and cranny. It’s something you need to see in South Jersey.. So let’s go my friends.. our exploring is about to begin and this one is a hoot! (Who says that anymore?)
The new and improved, Palace of Depression, was originally George Daynor’s vision. According to legend, since Daynor was full of some crazy stories, he was a Gold Miner in Alaska. When the market crashed in 1929, he lost his fortune. Guided by a vision of an Angel, he journeyed to the great and fabulous Southern Jersey. Daynor purchased 4 acres of land, on an old car junkyard site, in Vineland (at only 4 buckaroos) and created his renowned masterpiece. He completed his “Palace” on Christmas Day in 1932. Also according to folklore, he ate rabbits, squirrels and frogs on the property… YUMMY! Daynor lived in an old car during the years of its construction.
Daynor’s Palace,and himself, became an attraction. He self-proclaimed….. he was over 100 years old and the most photographed man in the world. Daynor was quite a character… But hey.. it makes life interesting, right? He had long red hair and a long bushy beard. Wore bobby pins in his hair.. He was a true hottie… wink wink… 🙂
In his later years, the 1960’s, he was known to wear lipstick and rouge, ooh lah lah. Old Georgie Porgie died a poor old man. The city of Vineland paid for his headstone, at a nearby cemetery, in Oak Hill.
In 1969, the Palace burned to the ground, surrounding mysterious circumstances. The only structure that is original today, is the admission booth. Currently, flaked with the darkness, from the flames, that destroyed the place.
In 1998, Vineland wanted to demolish the site and create low-income housing. This created a resurrection of sort by Mr. Kirschner and Mr. Jeffrey Tirante. Within a short period, they were able to receive over $11,000 in donations and 400 volunteers ready to work and bring the Palace of Depression, back to life! Woo hoo!!
For over the last decade, it indeed has been brought back to life. It is almost completed. The old caves were found and reconstructed, plus, some of the old materials were able to be used again. No blueprint was left from Daynor, so imagination had to come into play.
Jeffrey Tirante now lives in the “Devil’s Lair.” He is the Living Jersey Devil and was also proclaimed, as the devil, by the mayor of Vineland.
Upon my arrival, it was in Winter, a somewhat mild day. I toured around the property and found the lair….out popped Tirante and scared the britches out of me!
This place is incredible. You can see all the hard work they have put into every detail. From bowling balls, to neat little knickknacks and crazy designs placed throughout the palace walls, you could literally spend an entire day taking it all in.
The Palace of Depression has been featured in many articles such as the NY Times, Local Papers and magazines from all over the world. It was also featured in the movie, Eddie & The Cruisers.
Admission is FREE, however I do ask you leave a small donation. Trust me, it’s worth it.
I’m so happy to see a piece of history brought back to life and to be enjoyed by all my fellow South Jerseyans. Go and check it out! You’ll love it!!
Until our next adventure, my friends! -The Yummygal