In the late 19th century, Atlantic City began its heydey as a booming resort town thanks to a new railroad connection. To attract prospective real estate investors and tourists, inventor James V. Lafferty received a patent to build a giant elephant statue in nearby Margate. Completed in 1881, Lucy the Elephant stood 65 feet tall (six stories) and weighed 90 tons. After a preservation battle in 1969, Lucy was restored in the ’70s and has continued to be a spectacle for locals and vacationers alike. The 138-year-old attraction has even caught the attention of Airbnb, who announced that they’ll be offering three overnight stays inside Lucy. The lucky Lucy fans will pay $138 (the same number as her age) for a stay on either March 17, 18, or 19.
Photo courtesy of Airbnb
Lucy the Elephant is older than the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, as Airbnb notes, and is the country’s oldest surviving roadside attraction. She was built with nearly one million pieces of wood and 12,000 square feet of tin. In her early years, real estate investors would climb to the top and stand in her howdah to take in the surrounding views. In the early 20th century, she even served as a tavern and a summer home for a British doctor. In 1970, the then owners donated the statue to a nonprofit called the Save Lucy Committee, who moved Lucy to her current home (a city-owned lot a couple of blocks away) and embarked on a major restoration of the rundown structure. By 1974, she was stable enough to start welcoming visitors back inside, and two years later she received the distinction of being named as a National Historic Landmark.
The total restoration was not complete until 2000, and today the Committee opens Lucy for tours on weekends in the off-season and all summer. They open Lucy for tours on weekends in the off-season and all summer, but they still face considerable insurance and operating costs. Therefore, the partnership with Airbnb is not for revenue, but to make a larger audience aware of Lucy and her needs.
Photos courtesy of Airbnb
As part of their deal, Airbnb made a donation to the Save Lucy Committee and completely outfitted the elephant for guests. They say they wanted to model the decor “after what Lucy’s interior would have looked like when she was briefly a summer vacation home in the early 20th century.” To that end, guests will enjoy luxe Victorian furnishings including silky jewel-toned fabrics, low velvet couches, and period accessories. Other perks include a gift card to a local restaurant and breakfast delivered to a dining table on the howdah. Richard Helfant, Executive Director of the Save Lucy Committee, will also be available to guests to provide historic information and answer any questions. Lucy has central air and heat but no running water, so guests will have to go outside to a rented bathroom trailer.
Photo courtesy of Airbnb
Reservations for one-night stays on March 17, 18, and 19 open March 5th at 12:00 EST. Note that only two guests can stay at a time. Book HERE >>
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All photos courtesy of Airbnb unless otherwise noted
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