AIA New Jersey Applauds The Restoration of Lucy The Elephant

January 4, 2023

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AIA New Jersey Applauds The Restoration of Lucy The Elephant

On Wednesday, December 28th, 2022, AIA New Jersey Past President Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, attended the “unveiling” of Lucy The Elephant in Margate City, NJ, after a $2.4 Million restoration project that lasted 15 months. Richard Helfant, executive director and CEO of Lucy The Elephant, welcomed Kliesch to participate in the 30-minute ceremony, which concluded with a light show that served to reveal the preserved pachyderm in all her glory.   

AIA NJ Past President Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, and Lucy The Elephant’s Executive Director Richard Helfant

Ms. Kliesch’s remarks were as follows: 

“Good evening, Lucy The Elephant Fan Club! The New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is delighted to be here today to congratulate the team on the magnificent restoration of this treasured landmark. Lucy is a most noteworthy project, named one of the 150 Best Buildings and Places in the AIA New Jersey Guidebook published in 2011 and, as a National Historic Landmark, has attained the highest level of recognition as a historic site given by the National Park Service.

This project was made possible by a capital grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust awarded in 2020, which receives its funding from a dedicated portion of the state’s Corporate Business Tax, a move that AIA NJ advocated before committees of the state legislature because of our passion for projects like this. The maintenance of Lucy is especially challenging given her location and unusual construction. 

We appreciate and congratulate Richard Helfant, Westfield Architects and Merrell and Garaguso General Contracting of Swedesboro, NJ, on a job very well done, and look forward to sharing Lucy The Elephant with generations to come!”

Watch the recording of the presentation HERE

Dorothy Guzzo, NJHT’s Executive Director, and Richard Helfant, Lucy The Elephant’s Executive Director.

According to AIA NJ Historic Preservation C0-Chairman, Michael Calafati, AIA, the NJ Historic Trust was previously funded by state bonds every few years, only after being approved as a public question in a general election. Moving NJHT’s funding source from bonds to a dedicated portion of the CBT was a great improvement.  Mr. Calafati and committee co-chair Michael Hanrahan, AIA,  participated in the legislative process and spoke on behalf of AIA NJ in favor of the change.  NJHT’s page for this site is  Lucy The Elephant received sizeable awards in the 1990s.  

Lucy’s entire metal skin surface has been replaced with all-new metal. More than 50% of her skin had deteriorated beyond repair. After careful analysis by Lucy’s restoration architect, Margaret Westfield of Westfield Architects, Preservation Consultants of Haddon Heights, NJ, and metallurgist, Scott Kreilick of Kreilick Conservators, it was determined that replacing her metal skin would be more cost-effective than trying to remove the 50 years of paint and rust.

The general contractor, Merrell and Garaguso of Swedesboro, NJ, is a firm that has worked on other important historic sites in NJ – including Kirkpatrick Chapel at Rutgers New Brunswick, the CRRNJ Terminal Building Liberty State Park in Jersey City, and the War Memorial Auditorium in Trenton.  

To learn about Lucy’s history or details on the attraction, visit their website at

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