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- About the Dentzel Carousel
About the Dentzel Carousel at Burlington City Park
History of the Carousel
The Burlington City Park Carousel is a 3-Row Dentzel Menagerie Carousel built around 1906-1910 at the Dentzel Carousel Company on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Carousel was purchased by the City of Burlington in the summer of 1948 from Mr. Carl Utoff, the owner of Forest Park Amusement Park in Genoa, Ohio. Mr. Utoff purchased the machine in about 1924 from Locust Point Amusement Park in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
No one knows the exact date of our Carousel or where it first ran, but the mirrors are stamped March and April of 1913, and on the bottom of the wooden platform were penciled May 1914. One of the rounding boards is a copy of a 1903 Remington painting. Our frames and rounding boards are similar to one in the 1906 era. Our chariots are numbered VIII and IX, meaning that at one time they were together, in a pair, on a larger carousel. The early 1900s were known as the "Golden Era" for carousels and many were sent back to be refurbished or made into different carousels. Parts made in different years were put together and perhaps our Carousel was one of those.
The Animals and Mechanics of the Carousel
There are 46 hand-carved wooden animals including 26 horses, 4 each of cats, ostriches, rabbits, and pigs; 1 each of a deer, giraffe, lion and tiger, and 2 chariots. These animals are hand carved out of bass and poplar wood and are a hollow series of boxes and wood pieces glued together with hide glue into the basic shape, and then carved by hand. The Dentzel carvers were noted for their realism in the carving of the veins and muscles of the animals. The eyes are glass with pupils, and the tails are real horsehair.
The mechanical make-up of the Carousel is unique, as it contains many unusual types of bearings and gears, as well as an unusual clutch system. The many who ran the carousel while in Locust Point remember going out in the mornings and attempting to start the single-cylinder gas engine that once powered the Carousel. It was later changed to an electric motor prior to its coming to Burlington.
From 1981-1985, the Carousel animals and oil paintings, the center support system, the Carousel building, and all of the mechanical parts of the Carousel underwent a complete restoration. Stemming from a service project undertaken by the Alamance County Service League, the restoration spread to include hired and professional furniture refinishers - J.R. Finishing & Co. whose job included hand stripping all animals and making the necessary repairs according to a system compatible with the paint system used. Several artists were hired as assistants, and with the help from many community volunteers, the City Maintenance Department, the Furniture Refinishers, and the Recreation & Parks Department, the housing, animals and frames were done within a two-year time period.
The rounding boards also underwent a restoration as many layers of paint were scraped off to expose the original scenes underneath. Several local artists restored the original paintings to the beautiful condition presently on the Carousel.
The inner scenery panels that rest above the mirrors on the center pole were also missing their original canvases. Descriptions of the original scenes were described by persons riding our Carousel when it was in Ohio, and these descriptions combined with photos from another Dentzel machine similar to ours were put together with Karen and Duane Burchett's help. These are the paintings you see today when you visit the Carousel.
In January 1985, the Carousel was completely taken apart and the mechanical parts were thoroughly checked, cleaned, repaired and/or replaced by Mr. Tom Wolf of Tennessee, the City Maintenance Department, and local businesses. With new jumping gears donated by Lessona, Inc., the machine is one of the newest "Old" Machines around today.
In 2019 this piece of art in motion was due for another complete refurbishment and restoration of both its artistic and mechanical elements. Carousels & Carvings, Inc. of Marion, Ohio handled the restoration and repainting of the menagerie of carousel animals, repairing and fabricating new mechanisms, upgrading the drive unit, and adding an ADA-accessible chariot and ramp. This took place from 2019-2022 and ensures that the beautiful carousel will be around for generations to come.
In addition to the carousel restoration during 2019-2022, a new house for the Carousel was constructed. The new house is situated on higher ground closer to Main Street. This keeps the Carousel out of the creek floodplain and places it at grade level with the parking lot, improving ADA accessibility. The original Carousel House will stay where it is and be repurposed for another use. The new Carousel House is open-air in the warmer months and enclosed by glass during cold weather allowing the Carousel to operate year-round. An attached event space with restrooms and a catering staging area will be available to rent. There will be viewing windows between the event space and the Carousel for guests to enjoy.
- Images of Carousel before 2019 Restoration
- 2019-2022 Restoration and Carousel House Construction Slideshow
- History Panels Showcasing up to 1980's restoration
- 2022 Reopening Video Short
- 2022 Installation of Burlington's Fully-Restored Dentzel Carousel Video Short
- Burlington Carousel Installation - October 12, 2022 Video Short
- 2014 PBS North Carolina Weekend Video