Pat Pendley’s Get To Know Oregon Blog Volume # 19 Albany Brass Ring Carousel

In 2002 the community of Albany, Oregon became interested in creating a hand carved carousel similar to projects recently completed in Missoula, Montana and Salem, Oregon. As a matter of fact it was a visit to Missoula by our board president, Wendy Kirby, that brought the idea of a carousel to Albany. Wendy was attending an Altrusa conference there where the carousel Missoula had done as a part of their downtown’s revitalization was one of that conference’s presentations. This was the spark that began Albany’s journey toward creating truly a one of a kind carousel!

Our project’s Vision is to “enchant young and old alike with the finest carousel in the world, promote the artistry of carousel building by sharing our skills and talents and build community by opening our venue to events and activities”. With this Vision in mind we opened our carving and painting studio to anyone from the age of fourteen and up regardless of skill or background and began the process of getting animals adopted, carved, and painted.

This carousel will have 52 animals and, being a menagerie style unit, will have a variety of animals ranging from a seven plus foot tall giraffe, to dogs, cats, zebras, unicorns, dragons, and yes, even lions, tigers, and bears, oh my, just to name a few! The animals will be situated on three rows with the outside large animals being stationary while the middle and inside row animals (medium and small sized respectively) being jumpers. Each row will also have two replacement animals and we also have five seasonal animals planned bringing our total to sixty-three animals.

We also were fortunate to have a 1909 Dentzel Carousel Corporation mechanism donated to our project. Our initial plan was to purchase a new mechanism that would hold 32 animals. However, Bill Dentzel who is the great grandson of Gustav Dentzel, the founder of Dentzel Carousel Corporation, heard of our project and arranged for an antique mechanism to be donated to our project. We owe a great debt of gratitude to both Bill Dentzel and the American Carousel Association, who in fact owned the mechanism prior to it being donated to our project through Bill Dentzel.

Our mechanism took over nine years to restore to working order. The lead engineer on this aspect of the project is Carl Baker, who with a fine crew of volunteers has done a fantastic job in turning this truckload of “oh my word, what have we gotten ourselves into” into the marvel it is today! In fact, the mechanism is now fully operational and temporarily set up at an alternative work site in North Albany – way to go Carl and crew!

This project’s intent is to be one of two anchor attractions/businesses planned for in Albany’s downtown revitalization effort. The Albany Historic Carousel and Museum is a private 501(c)(3) business whose funding is primarily sponsorships of elements of the carousel itself, donations, grants, and other fund raising efforts. The city too has made forgivable loans from its Central Albany Revitalization Area (CARA) program for the purchase of the land on which the carousel building will be constructed. Elements of the carousel include the animals, rounding boards and other decorative panels, and the mechanical drive unit for the carousel and the new building that will be built to house the carousel complex.

The success of this project, including local, regional, and national media coverage, is due to a multitude of factors. First is the passion that brought the concept of a carousel to Albany. Next is the volunteers who have given over 150,000 recorded hours (and counting) of their time to making this carousel a reality. Next is the passion of the community at large that supports this project in numerous ways ranging from “adopting” animals to word-of-mouth sharing of the detail and realism put into the carving and painting of our animals to support ranging from donating necessary everyday supplies to gift shop purchases and donations to bring in family and friends to see our working studio where all the animal magic occurs.

Carving began on this project in June of 2003. Within two years we needed a larger studio so we moved to a two story brick structure on Water Street. Within the next two years we had outgrown that space and began a search for a new place, hopefully a permanent home. Our goal was to be within historic downtown Albany and the site we eventually found met our requirements and then some! We are situated on the west end of downtown Albany and have a nice city park behind us.

Much of the carving taking place is done by individuals that have never carved a thing in their lives. For beginning carvers we loan out tools, start you on a beginning project, give brief introductory carving instruction and discuss safety, and we turn you loose! Everyone advances at their own pace and there is always somebody around that is willing to answer any question you might have. The painting is also performed by volunteers and, like the carvers, they start on beginning projects and advance at their own pace. We are using traditional carving techniques where everything is hand carved. We are also carving highly detailed true-to-life animals that match both the anatomy of the creatures they represent as well as the style of the Master Carvers of the Dentzel and other premier carousel manufactures of the day. The painting process is called “stippling” and it is time consuming and exacting. We use oil paints and document what paints are used where on each animal so when the time comes when an animal needs to be repaired we will have our paint mixtures for each animal at hand. We also have both a lead painter and carver who perform incredible work guiding the work of these volunteers.

http://albanycarousel.com/WP/about-us/

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**Pat Pendley, Christie Pendley ,and Doug Hall, are licensed Real Estate Brokers in the State of Oregon with RE/MAX Integrity

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One response to this post.

  1. […] http://youtu.be/NbH3ydr7nl4 In 2002 the community of Albany, Oregon became interested in creating a hand carved carousel similar to projects recently completed in Missoula, Montana and Salem, Orego…  […]

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