The Palace of Depression is Vineland’s best kept secret, and is almost completely restored thanks to Kevin Kirchner and The Palace of Depression Restoration Association.
The Palace of Depression was built by George Daynor, a man who lost everything thanks to the Wall Street Crash in 1929. He bought land in Vineland – site unseen – which turned out to be a huge junkyard. After dreaming about angels who told him to build a “fantastic castle,” he decided to make The Palace of Depression with all of the junk on the property, where he and his wife would live until the 1960s. He made his living charging ten cents to every visitor who wanted a tour, and the Palace became a very successful roadside attraction.
In the late 1950s, the Palace wasn’t getting as much publicity as it use to – so George reported to the FBI that the Palace was involved in a kidnapping case that was filed in North Jersey. He claimed he saw the kidnappers at the Palace, which he did not, and he was arrested at the age of 99 and put in jail for several years. After being released, he discovered that the Palace had been destroyed by vandals, and he died shortly after at 104 years old.
Kevin Kirchner, who visited the Palace as a child, is now President of The Palace of Depression Restoration Association. The property came across his desk as a building inspector, but instead of letting it become low income housing, he decided to take on the project of restoring the Palace. He has been working on it since 1998 with the help of donations and volunteer work, and would love help in speeding up the process!
To donate, to visit, or to volunteer, email Thepalaceofdepression@comcast.net.