Posted on February 3, 2022 by Hunter Hulbert - Community
Despite its diminutive size, New Jersey has no shortage of peculiar homes. The state once boasted “the strangest house in the world,” known as the Palace of Depression on South Mill Road in Vineland. A cross between a junkyard and a castle, the Palace was built by George Daynor, an Alaska gold miner who lost his fortune during the Great Depression. It opened to the public on Christmas Day 1932 but has since fallen into total disrepair; a restoration society is currently at work to bring the property back to its former glory.
Residents and visitors curious to get a closer glimpse of quirk will be pleased to know that New Jersey still lays claim to a psychedelic wonderland in the middle of the woods, a quaint cottage within a modern industrial container, as well as a multimillion-dollar, Mediterranean-inspired mega-mansion.
Let’s peek inside five of New Jersey’s quirkiest properties.
Luna Parc in Sandyston Township. Photo by Hunter Hulbert
Billed as the private home and studio of madcap artist Ricky Boscarino, Luna Parc is exactly that. Born in Paterson in 1960, Boscarino later attended the Rhode Island School of Design, and, in 1989, he began work on Luna Parc, a residence in Sandyston Township that has been under continual modification for the past 30-plus years. Using mixed materials from cement to glass, his colorful and eclectic home features embedded mosaics, sculptures and paintings, in addition to his self-made collections of ceramic FacePots and hand-wrought jewelry.
Only a lucky few gain access to tour this home twice each year, by reservation only during designated long weekends in the spring and fall.
The Wave in Lambertville. Photo courtesy of Airbnb
Set on 10 acres along the Delaware Canal, The Wave is a long, low house with an undulating roof, just outside Washington Crossing. Built by architect Jules Gregory in 1960, the home’s pioneering midcentury design pairs with stunning views from windows that occupy the majority of the outer walls. A sunken living room and rock wall solidify its retro vibe.
Those looking to get a glimpse inside can do more than just that; the eye-catching home sleeps six and is available to book on Airbnb. However, if the two-nights-for-four-figures price tag is a bit out of budget, we highly recommend browsing through its listing to soak up every photogenic angle.
Billy Joel’s Piano House, Deal
Driving along Ocean Avenue in Deal Township, just outside of Asbury Park, there’s no shortage of stunning oceanfront estates. However, the story of one particular property extends beyond its curb appeal. Piano Man Billy Joel’s former Jersey Shore home is a glass-and-marble wonder straight out of the ‘80s — it’s also shaped, fittingly, like a piano.
The only way to see the resemblance is from aerial footage of the property, which reveals the distinct curves of the crazy 88s with the top down. While Joel has moved on, further up and down the shore to Florida and the Hamptons, locals still like to point out his former, music-themed residence.
Bunny Lane in Bernardsville. Photo by Peter Aaron
The shipping container craze has taken off, courtesy of shows like “Tiny House Nation.” But for architect, artist, and engineer Adam Kalkin, Bunny Lane (named by his daughter) presented the unique challenge to put a home within a home.
Nestled within a prefab airport hangar is a shingled country cottage from the 19th century. It’s here, not far from where Kalkin grew up, that he calls home among 30-foot ceilings, ample views of the surrounding woods and 4,000 square feet. Having also built exhibit space for the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, a mobile café for Illy and other projects worldwide, Bunny Lane in Somerset County remains Kalkin’s most personal project.
European Palace in Franklin Lakes. Photo courtesy of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty
While some might argue this home is an example of extravagance over quirk, we disagree. The sheer opulence of this sprawling, Mediterranean-inspired, brick-and-limestone estate in Bergen County is most definitely a peculiar site — unless you’re on a tour of the Amalfi Coast’s upper crust. Upon entry, a lavish foyer boasts double bridal staircases with iron railings detailed in 24-carat gold. Don’t let it distract you from the dramatic home theater, wine-tasting cellar or fully furnished seven bedrooms, which, of course, include a few en-suite clawfoot tubs.
About 20,000 square feet of living space are complemented by a luxurious pool, full-size tennis court, fruit orchards, koi pond and — what else — a heated driveway for the New Jersey winters. Interested parties with a spare $12 million might be in luck; the Franklin Lakes/Lake Como escape is on the market. Head to Zillow for a droolworthy slideshow.
Brittany Chrusciel is a writer and editor specializing in travel, and a lifelong resident of Monmouth County. When she’s not trotting the globe, she calls Asbury Park home and enjoys seeking out new and quirky experiences around the Garden State.
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