The restoration of New Jersey’s most famous elephant will take longer than the original estimate.

Lucy the Elephant, which has been keeping watch (more or less) over Margate since 1881, is in the midst of a facelift that was supposed to be completed by Memorial Day, but that’s not going to happen.

According to a report on News 12 New Jersey, the new target date for completion is sometime in August. Lucy’s metal “skin” is being removed piece by piece and replaced with a stronger material; after that part of the process is complete, she will be repainted.

Originally the project was to cost $1.4 million, but due to COVID-related costs and material cost, the price tag is now $1.9 million.

Lucy the Elephant Executive Director Richard Helfant told News 12 New Jersey,

"The project started in September, and they originally thought that the scaffolding would take about six weeks to erect - and it took 15 weeks to build,” says Helfant. “And then they had to put the containment around it, then we had delays on materials. Then we had a labor strike and we've had the worst weather in recent memory as far as wind."

Margate Elephant

Lucy, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark In 1976, was originally built in 1881 by a real estate developer hoping to sell lots in Margate (then known as South Atlantic City), the six-story pachyderm served as an office, a tavern, and a cottage before falling into disrepair in the 1960s. She was even scheduled for demolition.

Airbnb Lucy Photo Credit: Matthew Reamer Photography
Airbnb Lucy
Photo Credit: Matthew Reamer Photography

The Save Lucy Committee was formed and raised the money to both move her and renovate her. In 1970, she was moved about 100 yards to a city-owned lot and the original wood structure was buttressed by steel. She has now been in the same spot for 50 years.


While her official reopening won’t take place until sometime in Aug., limited tours will be resumed soon, with visitors being allowed to enter Lucy’s leg and go into her belly, but they won’t be able to look out the windows, which are blocked by the scaffolding containment. Also, the exterior of Lucy is covered with scaffolding and containment.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle only.

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