LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Portland Museum says it's trying to buy the carousel used at the former Fontaine Ferry Park.
The handcrafted carousel was a centerpiece of the Louisville amusement park. The 1922 William Dentzel Co. Deluxe Menagerie Three-Row Carousel has a 50-foot diameter platform with 48 animals: 43 horses, 5 menagerie creatures and 2 chariots. Among the five menagerie figures are a lion and tiger, as well as a deer, giraffe, and a rare mule.
The Menagerie carousel was moved in 1976 to Marriott’s Great America in Chicago and reopened as the Ameri-Go-Round, before being replaced with a modern ”drop tower” ride in 2003. It took research by the Portland Museum to track the carousel to a cargo container in storage at Great America, which is now operated by Six Flags.
When Fountaine Ferry closed, the carousel was moved to Chicago. It is now in storage. Five members of the museum’s staff and board are heading to Chicago on July 20 to inspect the carousel. If it is structurally sound, the plan is to possibly buy it and move it back to the city's west end in time for its centennial.
If the Menagerie is still in good enough shape, the museum will raise money for a restoration. A diverse coalition of community members and leaders will consider how the carousel could be reintegrated into Louisville.
The Portland Museum said the Fontaine "Fountain" Ferry Park was a popular amusement park on 64 acres in Louisville’s West End from 1905 to 1969. It was actually located between Shawnee and Chickasaw Parks.
According to the museum, the park only allowed white people until 1964, when it began to admit non-whites to the grounds. On May 4, 1969, Fountaine Ferry was vandalized heavily during racial unrest. The park was sold in 1969, renamed Ghost Town on the River in 1972, then River Glen Park in 1975, its last season. After a string of failed attempts to maintain an amusement park on the property, the City of Louisville took over the land and incorporated it into Shawnee Park.
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