Landscapes of Vineland History: Part 1

As each year passes, I find I am more fascinated by those passing years, than I am by the present.  I want to know the stories of that which came before me.  What was – had a profound affect on what is – and how I understand that influences the choices I make affecting what will be in the future.

My hometown celebrates its sesquicentennial of 150 years this weekend with four days of events beginning tonight.   As an active member of the Friends of Historic Vineland, I coordinated a vintage photo exhibit at our Vineland Public Library titled, Landscapes of Vineland History – longer post on this with lots of pictures later.   The photo exhibit is a project I’ve been coordinating for over a year, planning and refining the vision for it, and involving the community at large.  People were encouraged to submit enlarged copies of old family photos that were of “historic and unique value” to Vineland history.

Here’s one of the photos I submitted:

Here you see a 1940’s era shot of my mom, Connie (far left), next to her sister, Anne, and mother, Anna.  Two distant relatives we can’t identify come next, with my mom’s brother, Paul at the far right.

They are touring one of Vineland’s oddest claims to fame – the Palace Depression – built by hand by an eccentric former gold prospector named George Daynor, who bought his land sight unseen – for about $4 only to find it to be an old junk yard of automobiles and garbage on a swamp. Click on the above link for an informational article and fascinating video on the Palace.

Being the 1930’s depression era, he was undaunted, and chose to build with what he had and live off the land – hopeful with what was at hand – rather than hopeless in what was not.   He used all the junk – old bricks, stone, mud, auto parts, and garbage, and built something from nothing!  The most amazing house arose from the rubble on his land during the depression years.  A Palace of Depression!   Then, he opened it for tours.  Here he is in a vintage postcard shot standing in front of his pride and joy of the day:

It was so unique it became world famous.  Tours ended when he eventually lost all his money by the late 1950’s – and got in trouble with the FBI.  He was an old man in his nineties by then, and ended up doing a year in jail charged with fraud.  During this time and after his death in 1964, the Palace fell to vandals, fire, and was eventually razed by the city in the late 1960’s.

Currently, the Palace is being rebuilt on it’s original site exactly as Daynor built it – plenty of documentation remains to accomplish the reconstruction.  Amazingly, in just another couple of years, the Palace will once again be open to visitors – including an added museum building on the site with more artifacts and details about our hometown history.

So, my Simple Pleasure this week is the joy of remembering bygone times, hearing a good story, and sharing an old gem from my family photo archives in a stroll down memory lane.  I expect to be enjoying this Simple Pleasure throughout the weekend – extended blog on the subject coming next week!

But, for today, I’m sharing this Simple Pleasure with Dayle at A Collection of This and That

About Miss Kathy

"I teach families how to restore their God-given authority as the primary educator in their child’s life through the experience of reading together as a family. Learn how to use literature to create teachable moments, build strong minds, and bind loving hearts."

Kathryn Ross, writer, speaker, and dramatist, ignites a love of literature and learning to equip young and old towards developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle—reading together, learning together, loving together. Her works challenge families to deepen their literacy skills and grow into the greater things God has purposed for them. She’s taught in Christian and homeschool circles, trained in the Principle Approach® through the Foundation for American Christian Education. Miss Kathy owns Pageant Wagon Publishing, producing homeschool enrichment materials, devotional works, study guides, and theatrical dramas for church, school, and community production. She podcasts at and blogs at


  1. Fascinating story. Have a wonderful time!


  2. I just tried to comment and got some kind of doofus message that I had “conflicting edits”. If this is my second comment, please disregard. UGH.

    Anyway, this simple pleasure is one that I relate to very well. I love history and stepping back in time. I hope you post some pics from your town’s celebration.

    I would love to visit that castle when it’s opened. Don’t you LOVE his reasoning for building it? I think I need to create a depression castle around this place.

  3. I love to read bits of history like this. You did a wonderful job.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  4. Eccentrics do make the world more interesting for sure! I agree that not only is history fascinating, it is important. Lessons are learned from it, decisions are made based on it and we spend our lives creating it!!

    Blessings, Debbie

  5. Fascinating! I have heard about this place from my parents…but of course, I was born as it was being torn down. Amazed it is being recreated! Must see it now… thanks for the history and I love the fact you inluded a postcard visual! And a family photo to boot!

    Sorry I will miss your photo exhibit as well. Not planning a trip to NJ for awhile. Hoping before summer ends. How long is it going to be up?

  6. And what a fun post! I think wild turkeys and the Palace of Depression trump boring old elk anytime!

  7. Yes, what is with that? As the years pass we are drawn more toward those bygone days. I’ve noticed it, too…Interesting story, and I like the family photo.


  8. Very interesting story. Memories are something we will always have with us.

  9. Hi Kathryn,
    Have a wonderful time at the town’s 150 year celebrations. Your pictorial exibition should be facinating. People will love seeing their photos on display.
    I like the Depression Palace…How creative!!
    God Bless
    Barb from Australia

  10. Kathy,
    Our 3rd or 4th grade class was taken to the Palace of Depression on a class trip! We got to see it first hand and even were taken to the underground home he built in case of an atomic attack! The Palace was brilliant and even as young as I was, I could appreciate all the work and creativity that went into it.

    ~Best Wishes,

  11. Nice article, Kathryn, but please change “raised” to “razed” in the last sentence of the paragraph below the post card. Sorry, I can’t help it. I should have been an editor!

  12. Thanks, Dot! Missed that and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. I’m something of a grammar Nazi myself and I tend to obsess about such things.
    Miss Kathy

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