How We Began
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. This is the Albany HISTORIC CAROUSEL AND MUSEUM also known as THE BRASS RING.
Our Vision Statement
Our project’s simple 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 spirit by opening our venue to events and activities”.
Details About The Carousel
This carousel will consist of 52 animals and, being a menagerie style unit, will have a variety ranging from a seven foot plus tall giraffe, 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, where the outside row (large animals) will be “standers” while the middle and inside row animals (medium and small sized respectively) will be “jumpers”. Each row will also have two replacement animals and there is also five seasonal animals planned, bringing our total to sixty-three animals.
The Albany Carousel is 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, great grandson of Gustav Dentzel the founder of Dentzel Carousel Corporation, heard of our project and arranged for the antique mechanism to be donated to us. The Albany Carousel owes a great debt of gratitude to both Bill Dentzel and the National Carousel Association, the actual owner of the mechanism prior to it being donated to our project through Bill Dentzel.
This classic mechanism has taken over ten years to restore to working order, every wooden gear tooth, every mirror panel, every motor that turns the carousel platform, has been meticulously restored. The lead engineer on this project is a gentleman by the name of 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 installed in the new Albany Carousal Building located at 503 1st Ave West, Albany, Oregon – way to go Carl and crew!
The Project’s Intent
The intent of this project is to be an attraction encompassed within and supporting Albany’s downtown revitalization effort, we would like to thank City of Albany Revitalization Area for all your support. The carousel is designed to be a hub for community giving, family and community activity. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit we seek to give back to those that support us.
In addition, the carousel does offer tours to schools, senior groups and every tour group in between. There are also community service opportunities for schools and other civic needs programs, along with an outlet for volunteers as well as for those in the community drawn to artistic endeavors. The carousel will also be available for personal events, how cool to have your birthday at the carousel. There is also an opportunity to be part of the carousel museum for those with a love of all things carousel past as well as Albany past, a fantastic place for visitors from near and far to spend time creating their own family memories and falling in love with the highly personalized and detailed animals that are being created.
Carving and painting are the two most important skills that are taught to volunteers, they are the foundation for everything that is being created.
Much of the carving takes place by individuals that are complete beginners. For those starting out, we loan out the tools necessary to begin your adventure and set you on the path with a beginning project. We give brief introductory carving instruction and discuss safety, then we turn you loose to create your art!!! Everyone advances at their own pace and there is always somebody around that is willing to answer any question you might have. Soon you will see your carving come to life.
Painting is also performed by volunteers and, like the carvers, they start on beginning projects and advance at their own pace. The painting process is called “stippling”, it is time consuming activity but the results are amazing. We use oil paints and document what paints are used on each animal so when the time comes an animal can be repaired.
We also invite experienced carvers and painters to join us and provide instruction for volunteers. Help with passing on techniques that were once common place but now considered “old-world” is a major goal. We provide this instruction to anyone over the age of 14 who demonstrates both the desire to learn and to adhere to our safety standards and general policies.
Museum and Gift Shop
Our museum and gift shop are also staffed by volunteers. Docents who spend time learning about our museum display pieces, informing the visiting public of the history behind those items, and speaking in general about the project are rewarded with the awe that is introduced to those that had no idea about this past art, sometimes docents even give tours of the project if they wish.
We welcome anyone who wishes to volunteer as a Museum Docent or Gift Shop volunteer, we will train these individuals about our project, how to give tours, and how to work in our gift shop. We provide the opportunity to meet new friends and learn new skills that will last a lifetime and even possibly inspire others in your life to participate.
How We Operate
The Albany Historic Carousel and Museum is a private 501(c)(3) organization whose funding is primarily through sponsorships of the decorative elements of the carousel itself (animals, rounding boards, mirror panels, figurines, and chariots) as well as 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 as well as for architectural fees.
Beyond the decorative elements of the carousel is the mechanical drive unit for the carousel and the new building that will be built to house the carousel complex. Funding options also exist for each of these elements of this project.
We extend our tax deductible fund-raising to those interested in carousels in general; to those with interest into the mechanical world since our antique mechanism is a finely tooled working piece of art as well as an amazing technical accomplishment to both create and now to restore considering its age; to those interested in teaching and providing new skills to a community; to those interested in volunteerism for we have over 200 active volunteers and our entire volunteer base has donated over 150,000 recorded hours over the past ten years to this project; to those interested in the redevelopment of a small and somewhat forgotten through time downtown of one of Oregon’s first cities of the Willamette Valley; to those interested in museums and preserving history which for us means both our downtown and the antique carousel mechanism as well as our growing family of antique animals; and to those interested in supporting a family friendly entertainment venue that caters to the community that supports it.
Voting Board Members
John Boock – Vice Chair
Diane Neglay– Secretary
Mary Ellen Eagles
Non-Voting Board Members
Melissa Saylor – Lead Painter
Jack Giles – Lead Carver
Terryl Witlatch – Lead Artist
Carl Baker – Mechanism Lead At Large
Jenifer Weinmaster – Executive Director
Rebecca Bond – AVA Liaison
Al Shattuck – Building Facility Manager
Liz Stevens – Volunteer Manager
Kasey Reinhart – Event Manager
Sarah Deane – Concessions Manager
Martha Miller – Gift Shop Manager
Ross Jackson – Lead Carousel Operator