The Broad Ripple Park Carousel, an Amusement Park in Indiana

Topics: Museum, Indianapolis Cultural Districts, Children's museum Pages: 5 (1535 words) Published: August 19, 2014
The Broad Ripple Park Carousel was installed in 1917 in an amusement park on the outskirts of Indianapolis, Indiana. The White City Amusement Park had been established in 1906 in what is now Broad Ripple Village, alongside the White River. In 1908 a fire caused damage throughout the park, and only the swimming pool remained unscathed.[2] The park closed for three years until its purchase by the Union Traction Company, which restored it and operated it for eleven years. The carousel was installed during the Union Traction Company's ownership. The park was sold in May 1922 to the new Broad Ripple Amusement Park Association, and renamed Broad Ripple Park. In 1927 the park was sold again,[2] and changed hands once more in 1938.[3] The Board of Parks Commission of Indianapolis bought the property on May 18, 1945, paying $131,500 (approximately $1.72 million as of 2014) for the 60-acre (24-hectare) tract, and turned the property into a general-use park, destroying all rides it could not sell.[2][4] The board's original plan was to sell the carousel and the narrow-gauge railway rides.[5] Only the carousel remained in Indianapolis after it was unsold;[2] the steam locomotive is now at the Indiana Transportation Museum at Noblesville, Indiana.[6]The carousel was commissioned by William Hubbs,[3] who had it installed in White City Amusement Park in 1917. Built on a Mangel-Illions mechanism,[7] it used animals carved by the Dentzel carousel company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sometime before 1900.[1] The carousel was assembled by the William F. Mangels carousel company in 1917.[3] It was probably not the first carousel in the park, as there are indications of a previous ride that came from Hartford, Connecticut.[8][a]

Nothing is known of the history of the animals before their installation in the 1917 carousel assembly.[1] During the 1960s newspaper reports stated that it was believed that the animals had arrived in Indianapolis in 1917, imported from Germany by two brothers named Mangels,[9] but later research revealed the animals were manufactured by the Dentzel carousel company.[1] Also included in the installation were oil paintings on the canopy over the animals and mechanism.[9]

Part of the installation appears to have involved the retrofitting of some animals to fit the Mangels mechanism. During this process some of the animals, which were carved in stationary or standing positions and thus not meant to be "jumpers" (animals that moved up and down), were modified to allow them to move.[10]

Park usage[edit]

A row of giraffes was always part of one of Dentzel's carousels, as they were his favorite animal. Between 1917 and 1938 the carousel was located near the White City park pool, in an enclosed building with numerous large windows. In 1938, after the park was purchased by William McCurry,[3] the ride was enclosed within an unwalled pavilion with a domed roof and moved to the area of the park set aside as a children's playground.[1] The carousel was operated as a concession, which one operator, William Hubbs,[b] held for almost 10 years.[11]

The park district does not appear to have moved the carousel after taking over in 1945, as a 1955 newspaper article noted it was still in the same spot it had occupied for 38 years.[9] The carousel was again operated as a concession within the park, this time by the wife of Everett DuBois, the park superintendent. Like Hubbs, Mrs. DuBois operated the carousel for almost 10 years.[11] Although the district did not change the ride's location, it noted in 1955 that the equipment was showing its age. In 1955 the park district attempted to paint over the oil paintings on the canopy, which had deteriorated. The Indianapolis Art League objected, and volunteered to restore the original paintings rather than have them painted over with Disney characters.[9]

The domed pavilion housing the mechanism collapsed in 1956, destroying the mechanism and the sweeps that supported the...
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