Save Lucy Committee
“The mission of the Save Lucy Committee is to restore, preserve, and interpret Lucy the Elephant for continued use in her historic capacity as a major tourist attraction, representing a unique aspect of architectural history and the history of Margate City within the growth of New Jersey seaside communities during the late nineteenth century to the hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life and all over the Globe who come to visit her”.
The Save Lucy Committee, Inc. (SLC) was formed in 1970- by a concerned group of citizens to save Lucy the Elephant, a unique architectural folly that had been part of Margate since its earliest days. Lucy was built in 1881 as a spectacle to attract prospective real estate buyers to Margate (then known as South Atlantic City). Visitors arrived by the newly constructed railroad, which stopped right beside Lucy. Lucy continued in use as a spectacle and tourist attraction well into the twentieth century, but the harsh marine environment and deferred maintenance eventually took a toll.
By 1969, the structure was nearly derelict and the owners of the property on which it stood had sold the land to developers. The elephant was slated for demolition. In a volunteer effort of heroic proportions, The Save Lucy Committee raised the funds to move the elephant to a City owned property a few blocks away and to restore it. By 1974, the exterior and “super structure” of the elephant had been restored and Lucy was once again opened to the public for the first time in 12 years. The Committee also ran a small gift shop out of a small, one room train station (circa 1881) that had been moved along with Lucy from the original site. The gift shop and ticket sales for tours provided funds to support the restoration.
In 1976, the SLC, spear headed by co-founder and President, Josephine L. Harron, lobbied the federal government to designate Lucy as a National Historic Landmark. In a ceremony during our Nation’s Bi-Centennial, the United State National Park Service, a branch of the Department of the Interior, bestowed the honor upon Lucy. On that day, she joined the ranks of the Statue of Liberty, Hoover Dam, Mt. Rushmore and other Landmarks that make up the fabric of our American History. In 1980, an addition was constructed to the train station to provide additional space for the gift shop and new space for an office.
A few years later, the Committee constructed the “Lucy Beach Grille” refreshment stand to provide steady income for the site. The 1990s brought a new set of challenges to the Committee, as they tried to move forward with the restoration of the interior, only to discover that much of the wood from the 1970s restoration in the structure had rotted due to a moisture problem. Through a concerted effort, the moisture problem was addressed, the exterior was restored again, and the interior was restored by 2000. The Committee then began a focus on becoming a professional organization to better maintain and interpret the site. In 2000, an Executive Director was hired to achieve that transition.
The Save Lucy Committee offices are located at the Lucy the Elephant site at 9200 Atlantic Avenue, Margate City, NJ. The Committee is administered by a fifteen person board, with day to day operations coordinated by the Executive Director. The Committee has approximately 30 members, many of them long time Margate City or Jersey Shore residents. Fund raising is on-going to construct an interpretive center to provide expanded and more accessible interpretation as well as to establish an endowment to ensure future maintenance of the buildings and the site.