Vintage New England Carousels

By Carla Charter

With warm summer days upon us, thoughts of summers past may waft into our memories.  The following vintage carousels can time travel us back to our childhood summers, if only for a few moments or so.

Bushnell Carousel, Hartford, Connecticut

The beauty of a carousel with hand carved horses is not to be disputed. The 1914 Stein & Goldstein Carousel is one such carousel. It is one of only three Stein and Goldstein Carousels in existence. The horses made by Stein and Goldstein were large with big heads and large teeth, large painted buckles and were decorated with ribbons and flowers.


Curran Homestead Village, Newfield, Maine

This 1896 Armitage Herschell Carousel is the second oldest in existence. These horses rather than go up and down , rock back and forth as if galloping.  It was owned by Ivory Fenderson, cabinetmaker in Saco, Maine who took the carousel to carnivals in fairs in Southern Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts between 1896 and 1922. The carousel was retired in 1922 and remained in a hayloft until 1977 when it was restored.


Flying Horse Carousel, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

This 1876 carousel was created by Charles Dare and is the nation’s oldest platform carousel and is only one of two Dare carousels in existence.  In Platform Carousels, the horses are suspended from a center frame rather than a wooden platform which causes the horses to “fly” as the carousel gains speed. This carousel was designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Landmark.


Canobie Lake Carousel in Salem, N.H.

This 1898 Loof-Dentzel Mix carousel includes a menagerie of carousel animals including horses, deer, goat, and a rare Gustav Dentzel Signature Lion. Dentzel immigrated from Germany to the United States and was one of the industry’s earlier carousel makers.


Crescent Park Loof Carousel in Rhode Island

The 1895 Charles I. D. Loof Carousel was originally built as a showcase carousel for buyers, it is the largest and most elaborate of his works. The carousel was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1976 and in 1987 the National Park Service designated the carousel as a National Historic Landmark. In 1985 the Rhode Island General Assembly proclaimed the carousel as the State Jewel of American Folk Art.  Loof was one of the earliest and foremost carousel designers.


Shelburne Museum Carousel in Vermont

The museum has a 1939 Herschell Carousel to ride outside of the museum’s circus building. Inside the building there are Dentzel Carousel Animals on display, including 20 Jumper Animals and 2 Chariots. Dentzel was one of the most prolific makers of carousels.