Thursday, September 27, 2007

Postcards featuring unusual buildings Part 7

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The postcard of the day is the most unusual hotel I have seen and it has been a fixture in South Atlantic City, Margate City, New Jersey since it was built in 1881 and you can still visit it today.
James Lafferty, Jr. built the Elephant Hotel, later nicknamed “Lucy”, to attract prospective buyers to the area where he owned property he wanted to sell and even took out a patent on the idea. He claimed it cost $38,000 to construct but by 1887 he was overextended and sold the Hotel and other property to Anton Gertzen. Anton died in 1902 and the six-story hotel was sold to his son John who charged visitors a dime to tour the interior and climb the spiral stairway to the observatory on its back. In 1902 the hotel was leased as a summer home and in 1903 a hurricane damaged the structure, which was then moved farther back from the beach. At that time it was converted into a tavern and in 1904 almost burned down when patrons knocked over an oil lantern and ended Lucy’s use as a tavern.
When John died in 1916, his wife Sophie took over the property and ran a rooming house nearby and still sold tours for a dime. When prohibition was repealed in 1933, Sophie began an old-fashioned beer garden and named it the Elephant Café. Due to her age, Sophie sold the Café after WWII but retained the Elephant and several years later repurchased the Elephant Café and converted it into the Elephant Hotel.
Sophia died in 1963 and the business passed to her children who ran the hotel and the famous Elephant Lucy as a tourist attraction until 1970. They donated Lucy to the City of Margate, sold the land to developers and retired to Florida. The city raised the money ($9,000)to move Lucy and prepare the new site ($15,000) two blocks away on city property. Historic preservation was helped when the “Save Lucy Committee” received a New Jersey non-profit status and was declared a tax-deductible entity under the Internal Revenue Code. In 1971 the Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration began in 1973 and continues today with over $600,000 being raised by the Save Lucy Committee to date.
STATISTICS: 58 feet tall; Elephant’s trunk is 21 feet long; 1 million pieces of wood, 250 kegs of nails, six tons of bolts and 13,400 square feet of tin (to cover the body) required in construction. This postcard can be found in my New Jersey listings along with more than 10,000 additional postcards available on my website at Moody's Postcards.
Complete information may be found at