MARGATE City, N.J. — A beloved rebel from a bygone period, she stands as a six-tale testament to New Jersey’s brawny brand name of seaside kitsch.
Her calendar age is 138, but she wears it well. She has survived hurricanes, mild rot and brushes with fame.
Lucy the Elephant, a countrywide landmark crafted in 1881 in Margate, a seaside town about five miles south of Atlantic Town, is the final of a few hulking pachyderms that as soon as stood alongside the East Coast.
“The oldest surviving illustration of zoomorphic architecture on Earth,” boasted her human handler and lifelong cheerleader, Richard Helfant.
And she is about to be the object of a publicity stunt befitting her colossal sizing and in company of her initial mission: attracting website visitors to the Jersey Shore.
Lucy has been detailed on Airbnb. Beginning on St. Patrick’s Working day. For $138 a night.
“Guests will be transported back again in time with a stay within Lucy the Elephant, a single of the last standing parts of roadside Americana,” Airbnb mentioned in a assertion introduced on Thursday.
Mr. Helfant retains a critical to her cavernous coronary heart, opening the door in her remaining hind foot for each day tours in the course of summers and on weekends in the off-time.
Every calendar year, about 132,000 paying out website visitors climb a narrow spiral staircase into the stomach of the beast. Some continue on up the facet stairs to Lucy’s ornate howdah, which is perched atop the 65-foot-tall elephant and provides gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic Town skyline.
“If you could see the faces of the very little young children,” mentioned Mr. Helfant, who has served for 21 years as government director of a nonprofit accountable for functioning and retaining Lucy. “‘Is she true?’ they ask. ‘Can I contact her? What do you feed it?’”
When Lucy hosts overnight friends, it will actually not be the initial time the big elephant has been inhabited by people, although it’s been a while.
For the duration of one quirky chapter of her storied earlier, a relatives of six rented Lucy as their dwelling in 1902. They manufactured a next floor within the elephant’s wood body, and set up a kitchen and a parlor, in accordance to Jeremy Bingaman, Lucy the Elephant’s instructional director. A lavatory was crafted in the cove of her appropriate shoulder.
The 2nd floor has been removed, and Lucy has no managing h2o, but a white claw-foot tub stays in the small bathroom.
Lucy will be available to lease from Mr. Helfant, the Airbnb host, on three times following thirty day period, for two guests a night time. A team member and a security guard will be on hand in the nearby gift shop. And a mobile trailer will be positioned at Lucy’s feet to fulfill guests’ toiletry needs.
For now, it is a 3-working day offering, but Mr. Helfant explained he was open up to an prolonged operate.
“When you get the job done for a 90-ton, 138-12 months-outdated elephant, absolutely nothing is off the table,” he mentioned.
The $138 rental rate is a nod to Lucy’s age. Mr. Helfant mentioned the principal target was not rental earnings, but the power of Airbnb’s worldwide promoting.
He stated he hoped the novelty would assist to maximize recognition of Lucy outdoors the speedy location, and would attract new customers to offset Lucy’s significant insurance policy and running charges.
In trade for bragging legal rights to the only elephant lodging in the country, Airbnb outfitted Lucy with Victorian furnishings and manufactured a contribution to the Help you save Lucy Committee. Neither Airbnb nor Mr. Helfant would disclose the amount.
“It’s sizable,” he claimed. “It’s exceptionally generous.”
Attendees will slumber in a red-draped cover mattress, and will get a gift card to dine in an spot cafe. Breakfast will be sent, and can be eaten at a table positioned on a landing just underneath Lucy’s round eyes, which glow blue at night time in honor of Old Blue Eyes — Frank Sinatra, a indigenous of Hoboken, N.J.
Legend has it that the lights in Lucy’s eyes when served as a signal for rum runners navigating the ocean during Prohibition. They would be lit inexperienced if it was secure to arrive ashore, and purple if it wasn’t, explained Ryan Brown, who in some cases operates in Lucy’s very well-stocked reward store.
She has been consistently struck by lights, was briefly condemned immediately after falling into disrepair and was moved — 2 times. Well-known guests have provided previous President Woodrow Wilson, Henry Ford and a Sultan of Brunei. In 1976, she was selected a nationwide landmark matter to federal policies and regulation.
“I received yelled at when I painted her toenails,” Mr. Helfant mentioned.
Lucy was created by James V. Lafferty, of Philadelphia, to lure potential buyers to what was, in the late 1880s, a mostly undeveloped tract of land.
He held a patent on the layout, Mr. Bingaman, the educational director, stated, and it was utilised to assemble Lucy’s even far more mammoth cousin, the 12-story Elephantine Colossus in Coney Island in New York, which operated as a resort. The Light-weight of Asia in Cape May perhaps, N.J., was a distant relative, but was not crafted by Mr. Lafferty.
When Lucy obtained her start out as a true estate office environment, she grew to become a tavern in the early 20th century that was operated by her next operator, Sophia Gertzen.
Airbnb is known for giving novelty lodging options, like a evening in a Goodyear blimp, while Lucy will be 1 of Airbnb’s most offbeat listings ever, in accordance to a spokeswoman, Liz DeBold Fusco. She claimed lookups for unique lodging — for instance, a U.F.O.-shaped pod, a coated wagon or an Idaho potato — amplified by 70 per cent above the past 12 months.
The mayor of Margate, Michael Becker, said the metropolis owed a credit card debt to Lucy.
“Lucy is Margate’s beloved animal by much,” Mr. Becker claimed. “Whatever we can do to get some fame for Lucy and the town of Margate is good, as considerably as I’m involved.”
“Not several cities have an elephant,” he added.