Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Antique zoo carousel gets a Seattle home

By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        An antique carousel that had its last go-round at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden 26 years ago has found a new home at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo.

        The 50-foot diameter carousel, valued at about $1 million, features 48 hand-carved wooden horses. It was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. for the Cincinnati Zoo in 1918. It operated here until 1974, when Cincinnati Concessions, the company that had owned it since the 1930s, sold it to an amusement park.

        For the past five years, the carousel had been in storage at Paramount's Great America park in Santa Clara, Calif. Last year the Alleniana Foundation, founded by carousel preservationists Tom and Linda Allen of Seattle, bought the carousel and donated it to the Seattle zoo.

        “We've had a dream for a long time that we'd like to see an antique carousel brought back to Seattle,” says Ms. Allen. “We feel it's an art form and we don't want it lost.”

        The carousel is expected to go on display and be operational in the summer of 2001. A $1.5 million fund-raising drive has begun to build a permanent house for it on zoo grounds.

        Hand-carved carousels are a rarity. More than 10,000 once dotted the U.S. landscape, but only about 150 still exist, says Ms. Allen, a member of two national carousel organizations.

        The Allens spent a couple of days in Cincinnati recently researching the 1918 carousel. They would like its new home to include a display that tells its story through photos, historical information and remembrances.

        “This is a real treasure and it's a particularly beautiful carousel,” Ms. Allen says. “I can't help but believe there are people with fond memories of it in Cincinnati.”
       Anyone with information to share can write: Timeless Classic, in care of Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th St., Seattle, WA 98103. Or e-mail: alleniana@home.com.


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