Animal Architecture

What is gray, gigantic, has a trunk, and you can live in it? lucy

Lucy, the Elephant!  

Lucy is a unique structure on the Jersey Shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Margate City, New Jersey, USA.

Lucy is 65 feet, 6-stories tall, and currently is renovated into a one-bedroom rental property. 

Only a few lucky people will enjoy these overnight sleepovers in an elephant (March 17-19, 2020). The reason for the special occasion is that Lucy just turned 138 years old. The rent for each night will be $138.

The Story of Lucy

lucy3In 1881, an Irish-American inventor named James Vincent de Paul Lafferty, Jr. conceived and built this wood and tin structure.

A Trojan-horse type of ‘zoomorphic’ architecture, Lucy was built as a spectacle to attract tourists and revenue to the Atlantic Ocean shores of New Jersey. A new railroad, passing by Lucy, brought the money-spending visitors to Margate City (which was formerly called South Atlantic City). Sadly enough, Mr. Lafferty, Jr. went broke and had to sell Lucy in 1887.

After that, the public lost interest in the elephant novelty. Lucy did not age well. The ravages of time, salt seawater, and general neglect caused the wooden structure to rot to the point of dilapidation (it was falling down). By 1969, Lucy was doomed to be demolished.

To the Rescue!

lucynewLocal residents, appalled by the prospect of losing Lucy, rallied to the cause. They moved the building to a city property a few blocks away and proceeded to restore her former glory. By 1974, the exterior and internal structure of Lucy was completed and opened to the public.

In turn, a real estate office, a restaurant, a pub, and private owners took up residence in her stomach.

Volunteers – The Heart of Conservation

Passionate people formed a Save Lucy Committee. Complete restoration was completed in the year 2000. The special March, 2020 rental is a one-time event, staged to commemorate the historic value of this unique construction.

The vision of the committee is to fund the maintenance of Lucy, the Elephant as a tribute to the history of the New Jersey seaside communities.

Did You Know that Lucy, the Elephant

  • is listed on the National Parks Registry of Historical Landmarks?
  • is the oldest roadside attraction in America?
  • is older than the Statue of Liberty (dedicated in 1886)?
  • is older than Mount Rushmore (1927-1941)?
  • is older than the Eiffel Tower in Paris ((1887-1889)?
  • attracts 132,000 visitors a year?

Did you find this interesting? Let us know about an unusual piece of architecture where you live.

And check out more weird and wacky buildings around the world in the Structures Category of Smarty Pants Magazine for Kids!

Categories: Structures

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