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 When prohibition was repealed in 1933, Sophie began an old-fashioned beer garden and named it the Elephant Café.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

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Postcards featuring unusual buildings Part 6

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Today I will continue the series on unusual buildings starting with the Fountain Spring House, Metropolitan Church Association, in Waukesha Wisconsin. This is a circa 1908 postcard that shows a huge hotel that covers several city blocks.
History shows Colonel Richard Dunbar’s brush with death in 1868 and seeming salvation by Bethesda’s springs healing waters initiated Waukesha’s Spring Era. Dunbar had been given six weeks to live by his doctor when he drank from the spring and “was cured”. He named the spring Bethesda, bought a half interest in the property and began selling the “miracle cure” which won medals at Paris, St. Louis and San Francisco World Fairs. The original Fountain Spring House was constructed on 140 acres and formally opened July 4th 1874 to satisfy the huge demand by tourists who flocked to Waukesha to partake of the miracle water. In 1878, the hotel burned but was rebuilt, bigger and better than before and became a great landmark and THE place to see and be seen.
By 1905, the Waukesha Hygeia Mineral Spring Company, which had bought the spring in 1891, was bankrupt due to the modern skepticism regarding “miracle cures”, social and cultural changes and the automobile. The Metropolitan Church Association bought the famous Fountain Spring House and owned the hotel until 1956 when it was sold to a real estate firm who demolished it to make way for an apartment complex. This postcard is available in my Wisconsin listings, along with more than 10,000 additional postcards, available on my website at Moody’s Postcards.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Unusual Labor Day Postcard

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Tomorrow is Labor Day so today's postcard will support that occasion and shows the citizens of Butte Montana filling the streets for the unveiling of the Marcus Daly monument on Labor Day. Who was Marcus Daly, why did he deserve a monument and what did he have to do with Labor Day you ask. Marcus Daly was born in Derrylea Ireland in 1841, shortly before the potato famine devastated the area. Daly was just 15 when he fled the area in 1856 and arrived in New York little money, education or skills and no prospects. He did odd jobs for 5 years until he had enough money to buy passage to San Francisco by way of Panama. He worked a a ranch hand, logger and railroad worker and then took up mining and worked in one of the silver mines of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City Nevada. While there, he met George Hearst, father of Randolph Hearst, who later became one of his financial backers.
In 1871 Daly became a foreman for Walker Brothers, a banking and mining group, in Salt Lake City. It was here he met and married his wife, started his family and became a U.S. citizen. In 1876, he was sent by Walker Brothers to Butte Montana to check out the silver producing Alice Mine which he bought for the Walkers and kept a 1/5th interest for himself. He moved to Butte to manage the mine and ended up selling his share and bought the Anaconda mining claim from the owner who could not afford the equipment to operate the mine. George Hearst and his associates provided backing to Daly to buy the silver mine and shortly thereafter a huge copper vein was discovered that was 300 feet deep and 100 feet wide. Electricity was just taking hold of America and copper was in high demand making Daly a rich man. He built his own smelter so he didn't have to ship the copper to the Wales to be processed, built the town of Anaconda to support his workers, bought coal mines to fuel his furnaces, forests to supply his timber, built power plants to supply the mines and established numerous banks and the newspaper Anaconda Standard. By 1890, the copper mines were producing seventeen million dollars worth of copper per year.
But what also set Daly apart was that he treated his employees better than most other owners, gave preferential treatment to new arrivals looking for work, allowed a "closed shop" to operate, urged new employees to join the union and allowed union officers and society members access to the mines. He was also very in helping many different worthy causes. Marcus Daly died in 1900 at the age of 58 and was still one of the major figures in American Industry and was known as the "Copper King". The monument demonstrates the high esteem he was held in by his employees and the town he founded.
This postcard is available in my Montana listings along with more than 10,000 additional postcards on my website at Moody's Postcards.