Tourists get final glimpse of Lucy the Elephant before full renovation | Local News

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“Without Lucy, who cares about a gift shop?” he said.

Lucy was close to demolition in the 1960s.

“It was minutes from the wrecking ball,” Helfant said.

Lucy was sentenced in 1962, after the great northeastern March storm. As a child, Helfant would sneak into the abandoned building and have lunch, he said.

Local activists have launched a campaign to raise funds to save the building, raising enough to move it a few blocks to its current location at 9200 Atlantic Ave., overlooking the ocean. According to Helfant, most people at the time thought the building would collapse during transport, but he was successful, even though the trip took seven hours.

At that time, the exterior was made of pewter. It would have been better to use stainless steel, but the cost was prohibitive. This time around, the exterior will be a nickel-copper alloy called Monel, which didn’t exist 50 years ago, Helfant said.

He advocates not painting the exterior, saying the metal will look like elephant skin without paint, but that has yet to be worked out with state historic preservation officials. It also remains to be seen whether the howdah, the large cart on Lucy’s back, will need to be removed or whether it can be repaired on the spot.

This time around, he said, plans include installing a vapor barrier, which will extend the life of the repairs.


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