Saturday, September 17, 2011

Anything Goes Saturday - Lucy the Elephant

Today's photo (circa 1950) features a novelty structure known as "Lucy", in Margate, New Jersey (near Atlantic City). She was built in 1881 (!), and is six stories high, made of wood, covered in tin sheeting, and is the oldest surviving example of "zoomorphic" architecture in the United States.

A man named James Lafferty built Lucy in an effort to help sell real estate and to boost tourism. In fact, he built several elephant-shaped structures; one - The Elephantine Colossus - was 12 stories tall, with legs 60 feet in circumference! All of the other pachyderm premises burned down or were demolished over the years.

Here are some fun facts: Lucy is 65 feet high, 60 feet long, 18 feet wide, and weighs about 90 tons. She is made from almost one million pieces of wood. Her "small" ears delineate her as an Asian elephant, and yet she has tusks, which only male Asian elephants have.

She has served as an office, a restaurant, a tavern, and even a cottage... but never a hotel, despite rumors to the contrary.

You can still visit Lucy today! She had fallen into disrepair in the 1960's and was scheduled for demolition; but a successful "Save Lucy" campaign allowed her to be moved and completely restored. Hooray! She is now a National Historic Landmark.

And here I am living in a regular building, like a sucker.


TokyoMagic! said...

Glad to hear that the structure was saved and still exists....a story with a happy ending!

Rich T. said...

I think MAD magazine's founder William Gaines was involved in the "Save Lucy" campaign. The world needs more people like that.

Vaughn said...

Cool. I like the floor plan pic. My wife would like all the closet space.

David said...

There is a small replica of Lucy on the mantle over the fireplace in the lobby of the Boardwalk Resort in Walt Disney World!

Anonymous said...

Wow, how cool. Awesome post, Major. I love stuff like this.
I have some sketches of a French Bldg like this, circa 1750. I will send them.