Palace of Depression

Vineland, New Jersey, USA


Pace of Depression
The Disappointed Tourist: Palace of Depression , Ellen Harvey, 2023. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

I love visionary architecture and I love the idea of taking things that people have cast off and making something beautiful with them. The builder, George Daynor, was something of a cast-off himself, and building the Palace seemed to be a transformational experience of renewal for him. My favorite feature of the Palace – per Roadside America: “The highlight was a visit to the Knockout Room, where Daynor would offer to remove all bad memories by dropping a lead bowling ball on your head.” A man bought the property several years ago and is trying to rebuild it, but it will never be the same!!! Lori R.

Known as “The Strangest House in the World,” the Palace of Depression was opened in 1932. It was built during the Great Depression out of scrapped cars, rocks, mortar, and discarded junk by George Daynor who noted, “the only real depression is a depression of individual ingenuity.” Daynor, who claimed he was told to come to New Jersey in an angelic vision, offered tours of his “House of Junk” for $.25, living in and maintaining the house until falling ill in 1961. It then became a target of vandalism and arson and the City of Vineland razed it in 1969. In 2010 the Palace of Depression Restoration Association, led by Kevin Kirchner, began to rebuild the Palace on the original site. While a large portion has been completed, there is no confirmed date for opening it to the public. The painting is based on an old postcard – no attribution, unfortunately.