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From out of the shadows of the old ticket booth, the Jersey Devil tempts Kevin Kirchner with a wax model of the Palace in its glory.

Palace of Depression Reborn in South Jersey

George Daynor's Palace of Depression will be rebuilt on the same ground where it stood half a century ago. An official groundbreaking was held Saturday afternoon in a woodsy hollow along South Mill Road, attended by supporters, local residents and the media.

Kluge, Lincoln, Landis, Kirchner, the Devil.

Gray skies and sporadic downpours created the perfect atmosphere for the groundbreaking organized by Kevin Kirchner, president of the Palace of Depression Resurrection Association Inc. It was as if a ghostly Daynor was supplying the mud to get the crowd started rebuilding his grand garbage edifice. Kirchner himself was dressed as Daynor. The Jersey Devil (AKA artist Jeffery Tirante) provided the "scale" model, and Abe Lincoln seemed to be present mainly for moral support.

The original "Palace Depression" was the creation of eccentric George Daynor, an outsider artist with a talent for self-promotion. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, the Palace Depression was the offbeat destination for south Jersey. Daynor entertained thousands of visitors with his lively tours.

After his death, it was bulldozed and destroyed in 1969. In the last twenty years a local historical society and many fans of the Palace kept the memory of Daynor alive. A vintage newsreel film, "The Fantastic Castle," stayed in circulation among those who could imagine a day when the Palace Depression might return.

Ticket Booth.

That day arrived on Saturday, as city founder Charles K. Landis, Kirchner, the devil, Lincoln, and author P.F. Kluge removed the ceremonial first spade full of dirt. Kluge is author of the book (made into the movie) "Eddie and the Cruisers" -- notable chiefly for featuring scenes at the Palace. Historic articles and postcards were exhibited under two tents, along with "artifacts" -- assorted fragments and bottles found during a recent archaeological dig.

The only surviving part of the old Palace was the detached ticket booth, a rounded, fairy tale hovel.

The plan to rebuild has been underway for a few years, as Resurrectionists researched the Palace and raised about $200k in donated contract services and support. Kirchner couldn't find a blueprint or floor plan, so he worked with artist Tirante and others, painstakingly reconstructing the design from photos, films and accounts.

Ironically, George Daynor used to tell visitors that he had copyrighted the design of the Palace "so that no man might reproduce this inspired abode."

Kirchner plans to have contractors clearing trees in the next two weeks.

265 S. Mill Rd, Vineland, NJ
Hwy 55 Landis Ave. exit, east on Landis, then right on South Mill Rd. On the left a quarter-mile. Visible from the road; no trespassing.
Closed until some time in 2024, maybe.
Donations welcome.
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