The Bushnell Park Carousel, located in downtown Hartford, is turning 100 years old this year. In celebration of this milestone, a press release from the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, which managess the carousel, the City of Hartford is adding heat to the pavilion, new restrooms and a multi-function room to the operation, allowing the carousel to be available year-round.
“Hartford is proud to be the home of one of three remaining wooden carousels created by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein in the early 1900’s. We invite you to join us for our 100th celebration in July and again in November for our grand reopening,” said Mayor Segarra in a press release from the museum.
Construction is scheduled to begin on April 15 and the city will pause construction to open in time for the 100ty Birthday celebration scheduled for Saturday, July 26 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. In addition, the New England Carousel Museum Restoration Department in Bristol has been working around the clock to fully restore the carousel in time for her birthday. Artists have been doing wood repair, painting and gold leafing to bring the carousel pieces back to their original beauty.
“The Bushnell Park Carousel is a treasure in downtown Hartford. It is one of less than 200 antique wooden carousels that remain in operation in the U.S. – down from thousands at the turn-of-the-century,” explained Louise DeMars, executive director of the New England Carousel Museum of Bristol. “This year, as we achieve our ‘Countdown to 100’ Celebration, we anticipate a major public response to the Carousel’s 100th birthday in July.”
The Bushnell Park Carousel was created in 1914 by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein, owners of the Artistic Carousel Company of Brooklyn, New York, said DeMars. “It is one of only three Stein & Goldstein carousels left in operation in the U.S. that still provides rides for the public,” she said in release.
The carousel features 36 jumper horses (going up and down), 12 standers (stationary horses), two chariots, and a Wurlitzer 153 band organ. It operated outside of Albany, New York until 1940 when it moved to Meyers Lake Amusement Park in Canton, Ohio, where it gave hundreds of thousands of rides to children of all ages. In 1974, Hartford’s Knox Foundation brought the carousel to Hartford as part of the revitalization of the downtown area.
“Stein and Goldstein carved in the Coney Island Style of carving that is decorative and expressive. They made big animals with their ears pinned back, their eyes wide, their nostrils flared, and some even have their tongues hanging out showing you how hard they are working to give you a good ride. Magnificent carving and extraordinary workmanship went into the creation of these animals. Here they are 100 years later and they are still splendid,” DeMars said in the release.
“Historic carousels like our Bushnell Park Carousel are an endangered species, noted DeMars in the release. “We want to encourage people to come enjoy this treasure and learn about its unique history and art. Consider sending the Carousel a 100th Birthday gift to help keep her operating. f people begin caring and supporting Hartford’s carousel today, then it can be still be around for their great-grandchildren to enjoy in the future.”
Once reopened, The Bushnell Park Carousel will be available for birthday parties held during public hours in the “Carouselabration Station” areas. The Carousel is available to rent for receptions, weddings and special events. It is also available for photo opportunities, Carousel lovers may join the Friends of the Bushnell Park Carousel, the New England Carousel Museum, or a combined membership, which provides unlimited visits to both facilities.
A Carousel Construction Watch will be added to the website allowing friends and supporters to follow the progress and share their thoughts, said the release. The Bushnell Park’s Carousel’s $1-per-ride goes to fund general operations and ongoing refurbishing of the horses and the pavilion itself. The City of Hartford also contributes to the general operation of the Carousel.
When reopened, the Bushnell Park Carousel hours will be: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is inside an enclosed pavilion, and closes only during severe weather.
For more information about the Bushnell Park Carousel or the New England Carousel Museum, or to donate to help the Carousel’s restoration process, including the Adopt-A-Horse campaign, call (860) 585-5411. www.thecarouselmuseum.org.