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August 24, 2021

Lucy the Elephant to temporarily close for restoration project

The metal skin of the iconic roadside attraction in Margate, New Jersey, has deteriorated

Development Restoration
Lucy Elephant closes Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Lucy the Elephant is closing for 9 months to undergo restoration. Lucy has stood in Margate since 1881 and is the oldest surviving roadside attraction in the country

Margate's famous roadside attraction, Lucy the Elephant, will close next month for a nine-month-long, million dollar restoration project.

The Save Lucy Committee is leading the project, and said it's the largest restoration effort on the six-story elephant structure since 1970, when the group saved it from a wrecking ball.

The committee found that more than half of Lucy's metal skin has deteriorated beyond repair and needs to be replaced. 

Lucy has stood in Margate since 1881 and is the oldest surviving roadside attraction in the country. Lucy's 140th birthday was celebrated in July.

The project is funded through a grant from the Preserve New Jersey Historic Preservation Fund out of the New Jersey Historic Trust.

“This is an enormous financial undertaking," Richard Helfant, executive director of the Save Lucy Committee, told the Press of Atlantic City. "The cost of this project is estimated to be $1.4 million. Additional funds have been applied for from the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures grant program. The balance of funding will be raised by donations to the nonprofit and fund raising campaigns."

Lucy the Elephant served as an Airbnb starting in 2020, where guests could spend the night inside the famous structure for $138 a night, in honor of Lucy's age at the time. However, the pandemic pushed back rentals from March to September last year.

In 2021, visitors could book a room inside Lucy for Valentine's Day for $6,500, which included a bottle of Dom Perignon, flowers, candy and dinner for two made by chef Jason Tell, followed by a continental breakfast the next morning.

The committee said they will set up a weatherproof scaffolding to be installed around Lucy starting Sept. 20. It's estimated that Lucy will reopen on Memorial Day weekend 2022.

While the gift shop will remain open throughout the restoration, the last day anyone can tour the elephant is Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Save Lucy Committee is taking donations online and via mail at 1 Lucy Plaza, 9200 Atlantic Ave., Margate, NJ 08402.

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