I’m a sucker for carousels. I spent so much time riding them as a child that I’m still always drawn to them. I’ve written before about the Flying Horses Carousel in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
Today, there’s a carousel in need in Massachusetts. Located on Natasket Beach in the town of Hull, the Paragon Carousel is the last carousel in the Boston metropolitan area. It was the 85th out of 89 carousels created by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, renowned maker of hand-carved carousels in the Philadelphia, or realistic, style and was built in 1928. It attracts more than 100,000 riders ever year.
Now the carousel needs the help of all carousel lovers. This local treasure is in desperate need of funding to restore the animals and the historic pavilion.
You can help. Casting your on-line vote for the carousel at www.partnersinpreservation.com can help the Carousel win a $100,000 grant for restoration. The Paragon Carousel is one of 25 Boston area historic sites chosen to compete for ten $100,000 grants. You can vote once a day and need only provide your email address (so, if you have more than one email address you can vote once a day for each one!). The competition for the grants runs through May 17.
While many of the carousels remaining are no longer in their original locations, the Paragon Carousel stands today only a few feet from where it was delivered in 1928.
Paragon Park was built in 1905 by the Eastern Park Construction Company and run by George Dodge. It epitomized the Victorian era of Nantasket beach. Its 25 acres included towers, a medieval castle entrance, waving flags, pavilions, and lagoon, complete with gondolas rowed by authentic Venetian gondoliers, all illuminated by brilliant neon and 100,000 electric lights whose reflection spilled gaily onto the sandy beach. David Stone and Albert Golden took over the park in 1920, and in 1928 they added one of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company’s last Grand Carousels. A carousel is considered to be “Grand” if it has at least three rows of horses and figures. The Paragon carousel has four. It is one of about 60 of the Grand Carousels remaining in the US.
A little about the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.
According to Wikipedia,
The Philadelphia Toboggan Company is the oldest existing roller coaster manufacturing company in the world. Based in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, it was established in 1904 by Henry Auchey and Chester Albright, making various amusement devices, including carousels, wooden roller coasters, and their trains. The company’s carousels were preferred among discriminating clients, for their elaborate carvings and elegant decorations. Among their lead carvers were Daniel Carl Muller, Leo Zoller, John Zalar and, most importantly, Frank Caretta. Fine examples of the company’s carousels (manufactured from 1904–1934) exist throughout the United States
Of the 89 carousels built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, 32 of their carousels are still in operation. At least nine carousels were destroyed by fire and many of the rest, especially the most elaborate ones, were disassembled, the horses sold off to collectors.
I used to covet a carousel horse and imagined it in my living room. Now, I’d rather see it restored and ridden so that kids today and tomorrow can experience the carousel where it is supposed to be: in an amusement park.