Memorial Day is a time to honor our fallen heroes. It is also a day to visit interesting and historic places. Lucy is a unique attraction at the Jersey shore. Located along the beach in Josephine Harron Park, Lucy is a building that is shaped like an Asian elephant. She stands at a remarkable 65 feet in height. This pachyderm is the 11th tallest statue in the United States. In 1976, Lucy became a National Historic Landmark. Every 30 minutes, there are tours that educate the public about Lucy.
When Lucy was created in the early 1880’s, she was not a tourist attraction. James Lafferty constructed Lucy to attract customers to his business. Lafferty, who was an engineer and an inventor, acquired several lots in South Atlantic City. Since he wanted to sell these lots, he thought that this unique building would attract customers. Many people did come, but they came to see Lucy and not to buy the lots. They ignored the land that was for sale.
Since using Lucy to sell real estate was a fiasco, Lafferty sold Lucy to Anton Gertzen. Before purchasing Lucy, Gertzen wanted to move to South Atlantic City. Today South Atlantic City is called Margate. He loved the seashore city. Since fishing was his passion, he also bought parcels of land from Lafferty. With the land, he began a fishing boat business. Lucy was his most unusual purchase.
From the beginning, Gertzen knew Lucy was a tourist attraction. When John, Gertzen’s third son, bought Lucy from his mother, he turned Lucy into a business. John began to charge tourists 10 cents to see Lucy. Hattie was Lucy’s first tour guide. Many notable people visited Lucy. Woodrow Wilson, who became the 28th President of the United States, also visited Lucy. Since Wilson enjoyed the tour so much, he gave Hattie a one dollar tip.
During the 1960’s, Lucy’s glory days passed. The elephant needed to be fixed. Margate officials and preservationists had a dispute. Margate officials wanted the building to be destroyed. Preservationists wanted to save Lucy. Under the leadership of Josephine Harron and Sylvia Carpenter, the Margate Civic Association became the Save Lucy Committee. Margate officials gave preservationists an ultimatum. They had a 30 day deadline to move the building or else pay for its demolition. Through fund raising, Lucy was salvaged. In 1970, Lucy was renovated and moved.