Jantzen Beach carousel location revealed: Now it needs a real home

September 7, 2017

Source: The Oregonian - 9/7/17

After five years of persistence, Portland-area residents have won back a beloved piece of history and maybe a little bit of their childhood.

The Jantzen Beach carousel, which disappeared from the public eye in 2012 as the Jantzen Beach Center prepared for renovations, was not damaged or sold as many had feared.

It had simply been dismantled and stored on mall grounds. These grounds have been the carousel's home since 1928, when the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park opened.

The Jantzen Beach carousel: A timeline

The beloved carousel's history spans thousands of miles and over 100 years.

The shopping center's former owner, South Carolina-based Edens, has donated the multimillion-dollar carousel to Restore Oregon. The Portland nonprofit is now launching a campaign to find a permanent home for the ornate four-row, 72-horse machine carved by C.W. Parker in 1904.

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.

But on Thursday, Restore Oregon could finally share the good news.

"Don't we need something that's so completely positive and completely apolitical?" Moretti told The Oregonian/OregonLive this week. "There's no downside to this except that it will be a challenge, you know, to find its rightful home."

The announcement marks a happy end to years of speculation by many Portland-area residents, who worried they might never again see the carousel, and that their children and grandchildren would never ride it.

Restore Oregon officials say they will get their chance, though not right away. The carousel will remain in storage while the nonprofit solicits plans for a new home.

The group has created a blue-ribbon committee to consider proposals. The panel includes Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, former Gov. Barbara Roberts, Oregon Historical Society director Kerry Tymchuk and Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale. Moretti said the search process could take as much as two years and will include a feasibility study.

The nonprofit has a few requirements for the carousel's future:

  • Its new home needs to be in the Portland area – this includes Vancouver – in a well-trafficked area accessible to the public.
  • The carousel needs to be operational year-round, and cost no more than a few bucks per ride.
  • It needs to be housed indoors, safe from the elements.

Other than that, Moretti said, the group is flexible. The carousel could find its home on private land under development, like Zidell Yards or the Vancouver Waterfront. Or it could be housed in a government building. A private-public partnership is also an option, she said.

"We want to get people thinking," she said, "where should this go, where is the right area?"

Restore Oregon has not had the carousel appraised, but Moretti estimated that each of the 72 horses is worth tens of thousands of dollars. As a whole, she said, it's priceless.

Jamie Dunphy, a policy adviser for Commissioner Fish, said the carousel is symbolic of old Portland and should be preserved for future generations.

"This is something that has the potential to be a defining characteristic of what Portland is," he said. "When people come to Portland, this could be one of the things that's right there next to Voodoo Doughnut and the old Made in Portland sign.

"Great cities take care of their heritage and preserve it for the future, and we're at a moment where we can do that. ... If we do this right, we'll keep Portland special."

How you can get involved

Make a proposal: Know of a good potential home for the carousel? Share your idea at facebook.com/restoreoregon.

Share photos: You can share your memories, photos or videos of the carousel at facebook.com/restoreoregon or on Instagram using the hashtags #returnthecarousel and #restoreoregon.

Stay up-to-date: You can sign up for updates at restoreoregon.com/carousel. (The page will go live at 11 a.m. Thursday.)

Donate: Restore Oregon will be raising money to cover the costs of the feasibility study, along with storage and transportation of the carousel, if necessary. The group is accepting donations at restoreoregon.com/carousel.


Jantzen Beach carousel location revealed: Now it needs a real home,

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