An attraction with the name “Palace of Depression” may sound a little foreboding (and depressing), but I assure you, it is not. Located in Vineland, New Jersey, this magical place derives its name from the era in which it was originally built- The Great Depression. George Daynor lost his fortune in the stock market crash in 1929 and traveled to Vineland, NJ with just a couple of bucks in his pocket. He claims an angel guided him there. Then, in one of his dreams, the angel instructed him to build the odd house. The angel also insisted he should make the house out of junk! It turned into a famous area attraction that thousands of people flocked to visit in its hey day.
Over the years, the Palace of Depression fell to pieces and was eventually torn down. The only original building left on the property is the ticket booth. Right now, there is a restoration project to re-build the Palace and it is looking great so far. There is a small building which is being added to constantly. Volunteers are working hard to restore the property to its original grandeur.
My mom, my sister, and I recently visited the Palace of Depression in honor of my sister’s birthday weekend. A really cool guy gave us a tour of the property (the workers there ask that you call first so that you can verify that they’ll be there and so they can let you into the parking lot). He had a lot of great information about the Palace of Depression’s past, the new building, and other tidbits of local history.
When you walk up to the building, you will see a lot of lawn ornaments, the old ticket booth, and even a pine tree decorated with Christmas ornaments (we were there in June). A small creek runs alongside of the property. Apparently, it is rumored that the Palace is built on sacred Native American ground! The building itself is mostly brick, but it has really neat objects inlaid in between the bricks. Bottles, paperweights, tiles, marbles, and all other sorts of little objects add a whimsical feel to the exterior.
Our tour guide took the three of us inside the building and showed us around. They have added a room dubbed “The Jersey Devil House” with, of course, the Jersey Devil himself guarding it. There is also a den with a fireplace topped with a large blue mosaic devil’s head. Our tour guide told us that when a fire is lit inside, the devil’s eyes glow! Currently, they are working on a throne room (among several other features), which should be completed in the near future.
The Palace of Depression, like I said before, is a magical place. It is not often that we are able to find magic left in the world today, so my visit here left me hopeful, light-hearted, and inspired. I want to decorate our garden, make a sculpture, or maybe one day a little building on our property reminiscent of the Palace. I look forward to visiting again and seeing what else they have added.
I would highly recommend a visit to this place. Here is the info:
Palace of Depression
265 S. Mill Road Vineland, NJ 08360
Hours of Operation: No set hours, please call ahead of time
Admission: No admission fee, Donation only