The magic of a carousel is not easily forgotten for many a child, and it’s no surprise..the enchantment of riding that snorting, rearing horse, or straddling a pig or other creature, while a post moves you up and down as you circle the planet created by a carousel is somehow ingrained in us, from that first fantasy-woven ride. Our lovely state of North Carolina is host to four well known carousels, and Jeff Pettitt has been exercising his eclectic taste and recently snapping away at these enticing structures . He managed to fascinate us over at NC Culture so much, we simply had to explore this part of NC a little more.
To begin with, “carousel” is a French word for a rotating platform adorned with animals mounted on posts, usually horses. With horses being the most common animal depicted, carousels are also known by these names: Galloper, Jumper, Flying Horses, Roundabout, and even Horseabout. Some of our first carousels were called “flying carousels”, due to animals circling and pulling a rope, while the centrifugal force would cause the animal statue or chariot to fly out away from the central pole. Some of the more popular carousel constructions were done by the Dentzel family of Germany. Our Pullen Park Carousel and Burlington Carousel were both constructed by the Dentzels.
Burlington City Park Carousel
The Burlington City Park Carousel is a 3 row Menagerie carousel, and although there is no validated information on when it was made, various marks found on the carousel parts mention 1913, 1914, and one of the paintings is a copy of a 1903 Remington. Other similarities include frames matching carousels from 1906. Often, carousels were sent for refurbishing or parts were recycled into new carousels, and this may well be the case with this one. It has 46 animals in all, mostly horses, but including deer, giraffe, lions, tigers, cats, rabbits, and even ostriches. The wood used for the handcarving was primarily bass and poplar. In 1981 until 1985, the carousel underwent a major restoration, and original scenes were discovered when layers of paint were removed. Many local artists and craftspeople donated time and effort to bring this carousel back to its’ original condition.
For more information on the Burlington Carousel, please call 336 222 5030, or check the Burlington website at http://www.burlingtonnc.gov/index.aspx?NID=232
Chavis Height Carousel
Many are aware of the Pullen Park Carousel, but how many know that Raleigh is also home to the Chavis Park Carousel? Believed to have been built in either late 1910s or early 1920s, it was built by the Allan Herschell Co. of North Tonawanda, New York. This carousel is horses only, with two benches for tired parents to rest on while their children ride the jumpers, as these horses are on a pole that plunges up and down for additional excitement.
Pullen Park Carousel
Pullen Park Carousel, in Raleigh, NC, was built in 1900. Along with the 52 basswood animals, it also has a Wurlitzer organ, made in 1924. This particular carousel is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is also a Raleigh Historic Landmark. Constructed by the Pennsylvania Carousel Company, founded by Gustav Dentzel, it is one of the 23 only remaining operating Dentzels carousels still found in the US.
Pullen Park carousel has a facebook page, too: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pullen-Park-Carousel/104084616295381
Haden’s Carousel in Salisbury
In Salisbury, we have the Haden’s Carousel, which was a gift to Dan Nichols Park, in memory of Haden Holmes Hurley. You can find out more about this particular park and carousel at http://www.dannicholas.net/carousel.aspx
Sunset Carousel in Rocky Mount
The Sunset Carousel, built in the 1920’s and installed at the Sunset Park in 1952, is one of 21 surviving “Country Fair” style carousels. This type was built to be moved from fairground to fairground, a…nd has a smaller scale than other types. Its horses are characterized by flattened ears and an absence of other protrusions which would be easily knocked off with frequent moving. The Carousel was badly damaged in the flood following Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and has been completely restored.
Although Jeff Pettitt has a soft spot for mills, and considers them his “muse”, his charming pictures with so much detail on the carousels just really caught NC Culture’s eye. You can enjoy more of Jeff’s work at the following links, and of course, if you search our website, you can also see some of his mill pictures he so graciously allowed us to share.