Stop #4 — Jantzen Beach Amusement Park

Restore Oregon’s mission is to restore historic places and architecture. Peggy Moretti, Restore Oregon’s executive director, said Edens approached the nonprofit about the donation in the spring. The group, under a non-disclosure agreement, had to stay quiet until the transfer was complete. This led to some confusion about the carousel’s status when Edens sold the mall to Kimco Realty Corp. in July, reports The Oregonian.

Moretti said the search process could take as much as two years and will include a feasibility study.

One location for the Jantzen Beach CW Parker Carousel might be Jantzen Beach. The property owned by Red Lion’s Howard Detrick, on the West side of the Interstate Bridge might be a great spot. It may be at least 5 years before any new bridge is built. Meanwhile it could be a terrific asset for the whole region.

I previously called the Leavenworth Kansas museum and the volunteer I spoke to said they didn’t have the carousel and had no knowledge where it might be. Restore Oregon has additional details.

The 72-horse Merry-Go-Round first operated at the Venice Beach, California Pier from 1921 until 1927. It survived a major fire and was put into storage until 1928 when it was then shipped to Jantzen Beach Amusement Park, where it operated for 42 years as one of the park’s main attractions — along with the Big Dipper Roller Coaster.

The Jantzen Beach Mall opened in 1972 and the carousel operated for 22 years inside the shopping center.

In 1995, the Merry-Go-Round underwent a thorough $500,000 restoration and was relocated to become the center piece of the new “Jantzen Beach SuperCenter” which added new retailers including Circuit City and Barnes & Noble.

But in 2007 the owners requested that the Jantzen Beach Carousel be de-listed from the National Register of Historic Places. The owners then attempted to have it moved to Portland’s Children’s Museum. However, the funding to move the carousel failed to materialize.

On April 22, 2012, the Carousel was closed to the public in anticipation of yet another remodel. This time a $50-$60 million project by the new owners, EDENS, a South Carolina-based developer and real estate holding company.

While EDENS publicly committed to retaining the Carousel on-site at Jantzen Beach Center, the firm’s site plans never showed a dedicated location for the Carousel.

Economics are a consideration. Authentic, hand carved horses, of the quality that CW Parker created, can cost between $5,000 – $20,000. The Jantzen Beach Carousel is widely known for its many elaborately carved and one-of-a-kind horses, says Carousel News. If just the horses were sold at $10K each, that would be $720,000. It may be more profitable to part out carousels, especially the ones CW Parker made, then to make them a public attraction.

Some of the hand carved horses were made by inmates of the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, near the Carousel shop of Charles Wallace Parker. By 1925 the C.W. Parker factory began phasing out the wooden carved horses, and began creating the aluminum cast figures.

Here’s a Carousel Historical Timeline courtesy The International Museum Of Carousel Art in Hood River. The International Museum of Carousel Art has more than 120 carousel animals on display, each with their own distinct story and history. Founder Duane Perron says there were two carousels spinning at Jantzen Beach at one time, both with Parker Company horses.

Here are some images of historic carousels around Portland.

The Albany Historic Carousel & Museum also is a hub of people and expertise. Portland Architecture, Friends of Portland’s Wooden Carousels and Save the Jantzen Beach Carousel have more info.

Today, if you want to ride an antique carousel, Salem’s Riverfront Carousel, lovingly restored by a large group of volunteers, makes a great destination spot.

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