The Carousel News & Trader, April, 1991
PTC #54 Will Circle Again at Fall River, Massachusetts
Restoration Work is Well Under Way at The Carousel Works Mansfield, Ohio
In November of 1986, a group of businessmen and bankers from Massachusetts, made possible the purchase of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company #54 carousel, that was formerly at Lincoln Park, Massachusetts, from a New York auction for $693,000. The machine is a 3 row circa 1920 with 20 Standers, which include 4 armored horses, 28 jumpers and 2 chariots.
The early planning and fundraising was conducted by Fall River Carousel, Inc. under president, Ronald Lowenstein. Over $600,000 has been raised from over 1,600 families or individuals. However, now the responsibility for the project has been turned over to the Fall River Office of Economic Development. Those who pledged money during the Carousel fundraiser in return for rides will receive those rides.
Mr. Ken Fiola, Waterfront Director, indicated that after much research and implementing standard bid procedures he is pleased to have the restoration work on the carousel well under way at the Carousel Works of Mansfield, Ohio.
The carousel will be operating in a two story pavilion at Heritage State Park which is located on the peninsula between Heritage State Park bridge over the Quequechan River and the entrance to another nearby attraction, the Battleship Massachusetts.
Mayor Daniel E. Bogan has vowed that the pavilion and the carousel would be completed in time for the 1991 Christmas season. He stated that, “this should be the biggest boost for the waterfront since the park opened.”
Eleven area banks will loan the city $1.75 million so that the groundbreaking can take place by May 1. The structure will be wood shingle, steel and glass, with the second floor having a walkway around the perimeter and will be owned and operated by the Fall River Office of Economic Development. Plans show that this will be a first class operation with architectural work being done by D’Agostino Izzo and Quirk of Cambridge. Principals have had experience in such other successful projects as South Street Seaport in New York and facilities at Disney World.
Mayor Bogan sees the $1.75 million investment as a much needed economic boost in a time when things may seem a little hard. The project means many construction jobs with some permanent jobs to follow completion. For every $1 invested it is estimated that $7 to $9 should be returned as locals and tourists visit the carousel and become customers for meals, gas and merchandise. The Mayor stated that, “this is entrepreneurial government in action.” No municipal or state budget funds will be used for the project as the $1.75 million is a “bridge loan” until funding already appropriated for the State Park is released. Plans are to have the banks paid back by the end of 1993.
Paul Vigeant, executive vice president of Fall River Office of Economic Development feels that the carousel will be able to stand on its own feet. The carousel will operate year-round, seven days a week, from Easter through the end of October. November through March it will be operated weekends, holidays and school vacations. Rides will cost 75¢. It is estimated that there should be 300,000 carousel rides given the first year. This seems realistic as Roger Williams Park operated last year only through May, June and July and gave 220,000 rides. Additional riders should come from those visiting the nearby Battleship Cove attractions and the estimated 4 million tourists that use I-95 annually.
The carousel pavilion will also be available for rental to civic groups, companies and organizations for special events, outside of regular operating hours. The facility will be approximately 8,200 square feet and house a dining room on the first floor besides the concession area. The carousel will be on the upper level as an added protection from any possible water damage due to its waterfront location.
At the time of its sale in November of 1986 the carousel was the highest priced complete carousel ever sold at auction, beating out the $598,800 price tag for the PTC #85 of Paragon Park, Hull, Massachusetts. It still holds that record today as each hand carved wooden carousel that has come up for auction has been sold piecemeal instead of intact. PTC #33, a four row machine from the Minnesota State Fair sold intact at private sale for $1,132,500 just minutes before going up for bid.
The Fall River carousel is being restored back to its original colors and design by the Carousel Works of Mansfield, Ohio. Using much of the same methods as the turn-of-the-century carvers, co-owner, Art Ritchie says, “Why change, the old ways work.” The other co-owner, Dan Jones points out the skilled construction of the horses and chariots that held up for 70 years under the abuse of millions of riders. The Carousel Works takes each horse apart at the head, leg and tail joints and checks for damaged or soft wood and finds problems before they become worse. On an operating carousel, the horses must be able to hold riders safely and be strong enough to withstand constant bumping and jostling from crowds of people without any broken legs. The new dowels and glue applied by the Carousel Works makes the horses able to go many more years serving their happy riders.
Although these horses had original paint under the park paint, they were stripped to the original paint and the colors documented before stripping to bare wood. The new paint was put back on exactly like the original paint and colors were, and should hold up well for many years under the stress of riders. The whole carousel will look like it did when it first came of the PTC factory in 1920.