If you’re the type who loves oddball attractions and “Roadside America” types of Americana, the Palace of Depression in Vineland, NJ is for you.
The Palace of Depression was originally built by George Daynor, an Alaskan gold miner who lost his fortune in the stock market crash of 1929. He claimed that an angel had guided him to New Jersey, and provided him with plans for the castle, which was made entirely from junk. Daynor created his castle as a response to the misery and poverty during the Great Depression, saying that “the only real depression is a depression of individual ingenuity.”
According to the Roadside America website entry, Daynor ate frogs, fish, rabbits and squirrels as he was building the Palace while penniless. He later charged 25 cents an hour to tour the Palace, which featured strange corners like the Knockout Room, where Daynor would offer to erase bad memories by dropping a lead bowling ball on people’s heads. He sought publicity constantly, which ultimately led to his imprisonment for falsely claiming that suspects in a kidnapping had visited his Palace the day before.
The Palace burned away in a fire after Daynor’s death, and the city of Vineland bulldozed it shortly afterward. But in the late 1990s, a movement began to restore the Palace entirely from junk as originally intended. Two gentlemen named Kevin Kirchner and Jeffrey Tirante, and a group of volunteers have nearly rebuilt the castle, and progress continues as of 2017. You can view the Palace Facebook page here.
The Palace of Depression in Vineland, NJ is well worth a visit for anyone who appreciates strange attractions or loves American history. And it’s located just steps away from the Ramada Vineland, around the corner on South Mill Road. Don’t miss this one of a kind attraction…make some time to visit the an unusual monument to human ingenuity during your stay.