George Draynor was a drifter who lost three fortunes in disasters and downturns, before winding up in Vineland. He purchased seven acres of land sight unseen – which turned out to be a junkyard situated on a swamp. Undaunted -- and encouraged by visiting angels – the eccentric Draynor began his notorious building project, which collapsed into ruin after his death. Reputed to be an epicenter of healing for Native Americans, and later adapted by Europeans to their own health-restoring practices, the site has been reclaimed by two local men, Kevin Kirchner, former building inspector for the city of Vineland, and Jeffrey Tirante, Vineland native and practicing artist. Kirchner and Tirante, with volunteer labor and donated funding, are rebuilding the Palace and developing the site into a city park. Fascinated by the odd uniqueness of the original, they’re working from that model towards a new version that will be up to code and handicap accessible. Meanwhile, they’re carefully reproducing Draynor’s sinuous walls, divagating ramps, minarets and spires, and swinging turtle-shell entrance door. And they’re embedding found objects – bottles, glass, bricks, pottery, car parts, found-objects in general – into the fabric of the building, just as Draynor had done. Thanks to the myriad of materials used, the walls glisten in the sun and shimmer evocatively after a rain, a goad to the imagination and tribute to the persistence of two generations of inspired builders.
|Palace in Progress|
|Up and Down Ramps|