Sunday, July 6, 2014

7/4/14: Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum

Next up in my series of Niagara Falls USA posts is the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda, NY where "Once around is never enough".  It is operated by the Carousel Society of the Niagara Frontier.  This historic site is a great place to ride on a carousel and learn more about the history. 
The factory complex located at 180 Thompson Street in North Tonawanda is one of the last existing complexes in the United States which housed the production of wooden carousels. Allan Herschell purchased the building in 1915 and through the years enlarged it to fit his company’s needs. 
Here is the building that houses the carrousel.
We were extremely lucky to have Rae the Director take us on a guided tour.  If you have a group of 10 or more you can call ahead and schedule a tour ($5 for adults and $2.50 for kids).  We started our tour in the large carving shop.  In this area there was a woodworking shop, a paint shop, a storage area, an upholstery shop, a machine shop and a roundhouse in which carousels were assembled and tested before shipping. 
In this room also houses still-operational, historic equipment and paper music rolls.  This is the only public display of this type in the country.  Organs use the rolls to produce the beautiful carousel music you hear while riding.  All machines here are over 90 years old!  There is 1600 hand-punched original master music rolls here.  Absolutely amazing!
The company shipped its first ride from this factory complex in 1916.  Here you can see some of the early animals that were on Carousels.
This guy has a mallet next to him which was meant to have people play like a strong man competition.  You would take the mallet and hit them on the head and if you hit them hard enough they would drop to one knee.
Lovely early horses and a Zebra.
Love this guy!
The museum opened in July of 1983, and continues to host approximately 15,000 visitors per year. 
You can also read about all the items as you go through the Museum.  You can also dial on your cell phone and listed to more information.
Of course you can't look at all these horses and carousels without riding one.  Included in your admission fee is a ride on the 1916 Herschell Carrousel!  All 4 of us went for a ride.
This historic carousel is 40 feet in diameter, has 36 hand carved horses and over 580 lights. This carousel was one of the first machines the company shipped after it opened for business at the Thompson Street location in 1915. 
 Here is Lauren.
 Evan chose the lead horse.  We learned that every carousel has a lead horse.
We learned that generally they have more jewels and they are behind the little seated bench as they lead the rest of the horses.
 The horses are lovely on this carousel.  The carousel is unique because it combines two completely different styles of horses. The large wild looking horses on the outer row of the machine are the “new and improved” 1916 Allan Herschell style. 
The two inner rows of horses are an older style dating from the late 1890′s.  A Wurlitzer military band organ plays music as you ride.

 Love the detail!  
 Absolutely beautiful!  Some had notes that they would be going up to be restored.
It also has a wonderful little spinning ride on it.  I love the waterfall on it.
I love how beautiful the building is when you look up.  This was restored.
Here is the Kiddie Carousel.  This area has some kids crafts where they can make their own carousel.
Here are the kids playing checkers in this area.
There are also some vintage rides from back in the day.
I love this train ride.
The complex, which is listed on both the New York State and National Registers of Historic Sites, is a series of seven interconnected structures which once housed all of the manufacturing components of the Allan Herschell Company. 
$6 adults; $5 seniors $3 children ages 2 – 16; under 2 free Admission includes one ride token; additional tokens may be purchased for $.50.  
Here is a short video I took inside the museum:
Find them online:
Disclosure:  I received admission to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in exchange for review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

1 comment:

John said...

My favorite part of the carousel ride was the incredible Wurlitzer military band organ. That thing was very cool to see functioning.