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Project: Lucy The Elephant, The World’s Largest Elephant, Margate, NJ (National Historic Landmark)

Lucy the Elephant Commercial Exterior

Lucy the Elephant is the world’s largest elephant, measuring 65 tall. This massive structure consists of over one million pieces of timber, 8,560 ribs or arches, 200 kegs of nails, four tons of bolts and 12,000 square feet of tin to cover her exterior.

The structure was built in 1881 by James V. Lafferty, Jr. Lafferty built the giant pachyderm to lure investors to then, “South Atlantic City”, in an effort to buy his properties in the surrounding area. In the late 1890’s Lucy was sold to the Gertzen family. The Gertzens charged visitors 10 cents to tour the furnished interior of the Elephant building and climb the spiral stairway to the howdah or observation on its back. In 1902 an English family leased the Elephant as a summer home. They moved into Lucy’s interior and converted the main hall into four bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen and parlor. A bathroom was outfitted in one of the small front shoulder closets using a miniature bathtub, you can still see on display today.

In the 20th century Lucy had been converted into a tavern, nearly burned to the ground and heavily damaged in multiple hurricanes. In 1970 the Gertzen family donated Lucy to the City of Margate and sold the land to developers. Shortly after the property, on which Lucy stood, was sold the new owner threatened to demolish the decaying old elephant landmark. A group of Margate Citizens formed the Save Lucy Committee in an effort to raise enough funds to relocate and rebuild this giant structure.

In 1971 Lucy was recognized as a National Historic Landmark. A total of $124,000 were raised, from both public and private contributions, for here reconstruction. Since the summer of 1974 until today Lucy has been open to the public. Today, approximately 32,625 people take the tour of Lucy “The World’s Largest Elephant” each year.

Alpine Painting was hired by Rich Helfant, Executive Director of the Save Lucy Committee. Rich contracted Alpine Paintings’ Services for the painting of the Elephant’s Exterior Metal Structure. Lucy’s exterior had not been coated in 7 years and the exterior coating was peeling and showing corrosion on over 50% of the elephant’s seams.

 Project: Lucy The Elephant, The World’s Largest Elephant, Margate, NJ (National Historic Landmark)
 Project: Lucy The Elephant, The World’s Largest Elephant, Margate, NJ (National Historic Landmark)

Lucy the Elephant sits approximately 100 yards away from the ocean. {Picture #8 Arial View of Lucy the Elephant} This structure constantly gets blasted by rising sand and salt water. Alpine utilized a flash rust inhibiter/salt removing product called Hold Tight during the pressure washing phase to ensure that all of the salts and other surface contaminants were removed prior to the coating application. {See Picture #9 Hold Tight and Pressure Washing}

A 60 ft. articulating boom lift was donated by Hertz Rental Company to safely access all of the surfaces to be painted. All peeling paint and rusted surfaces were hand tool cleaned to ensure that no damage was caused to Lucy’s delicate tin exterior. Once all of the rust and loose and peeling paint was removed our crew spot primed the tin seams with MAB’s Ply-Mastic 44 Series, Rust Inhibitive, Epoxy Mastic Primer. This high performance epoxy mastic is designed to exclude corrosion producing moisture by forming a hard, barrier-like film over tightly adhered rusted surfaces.

Because we were painting a metal structure, that expanded and contracted with the changing of the weather, we utilized an Elastomeric Coating that provided more elasticity and elongation to assist with bridging minor hairline cracks. MAB’s Acralastic Elastomeric Coating was applied because of its excellent color retention and adhesion qualities. Initially, another elastomeric coating was specified, but after applying a sample and performing an adhesion test it was rejected based on poor adhesion. The paint utilized on this project was donated by the Sherwin Williams Company.

Due to the fact that this project consisted of the rehabilitation of a National Historic Landmark, Alpine worked closely with Margaret Westfield, of Westfield Architects & Preservation Consultants to ensure we utilized accurate Munsell colors that closely represented colors from when Lucy was initially painted.

 Project: Lucy The Elephant, The World’s Largest Elephant, Margate, NJ (National Historic Landmark)

Since this project was so detail oriented we utilized a small crew of 2-5 men to work through the entire month of June, 2009. June proved to be a very wet month in Southern New Jersey which held the project up considerably. Our men hand cut in yellow and red accent colors for the Elephants blanket. All paint was applied by brush and roll to avoid overspray on the nearby cars, buildings and customers visiting Lucy.

All of Lucy’s 22 windows were inspected for rotten wood and missing glazing. All of the rotten wood was removed to a sound substrate. Because this is a National Historic Landmark we did not replace the wood window frames. Rather we applied Conserv Flexible Epoxy Consolidant 100 epoxy wood filler. Missing glazing around window panes was reapplied to prevent water from entering.

Throughout the entire project Lucy was open to the public. We safely coned and taped off areas where we were working to ensure that no customers entered into our work area. Our foreman, supervisor and project manager were at the site on a regular basis to ensure the project was completed safely and according to the contract documents.

Overall, the project was a huge success. We were able to complete this project and allow the customer to stay in business during their busiest time of the year. The Save Lucy Committee was so pleased they asked our company to bid the entire interior painting project inside of Lucy the Elephant. Alpine Painting was also awarded a letter of recommendation and the ability to hang our company banner on top of Lucy for the entire summer season. {See Letter #12 Letter of Recommendation} {See Picture #13 Lucy the Elephant Banner}

Project Details


  • MAB PlyMastic 44 Series Epoxy Mastic
  • MAB Acralastic Elastomeric Coating
  • HoldTight 102
  • ConServe Epoxy Wood Filler

Credit To

Credit To:

  • Rich Helfant, Executive Director of the Save Lucy Committee
  • Margaret Westfield, of Westfield Architects & Preservation Consultants
  • Rich Trefz, The Sherwin Williams Paint Company
  • Hertz Rental Company
  • General Information
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