This Dentzel two-level carousel came to life at the Dentzel factory in Philadelphia in 1895. One of the early machines, when it first began to spin in Rochester, New York it was not electrified, nor did it have jumping horses.
In 1915 it was sent back to the factory to be extensively reworked. On its second debut it sported an inner level that was six inches higher than the outside row floor to make room for the mechanisms of two rows of jumping animals. It had also been refitted with a commutator and hundreds of glittering electric lights.
It performed faithfully in Massachusetts until the 1940's when it was sold and relocated to Grant Park in Atlanta, Georgia. There, hundreds of children rode and loved the old machine right up until the late 1960's, but as it grew more and more worn, the city was unable to locate enough money to maintain the aging mechanism and animals.
Despite the valiant efforts of its many supporters, the city fathers decided to take the old carousel out of service and sell off its magnificent menagerie of animals. The tarnished and tattered leftovers were thrown into an old truck trailer and put up for sale.
An Atlanta man named Charlie Walker realized its potential, rescued the stripped remains and put them into storage. For decades the old machine lay waiting to be discovered by just the right person. The tangle of wood, canvas and metal continued to slowly deteriorate. Soiled by pigeons and chewed by mice, it required a unique person to recognize its promise and have the courage and determination to rescue it.
Early in the1980's, that person happened along. Bud Ellis had sought out Charlie Walker to purchase a band organ for his small portable machine. Instead, he discovered the, by now, almost unrecognizable wreck and fell in love. That love sustained him through almost 10 years of meticulous restoration.
Bud kindled sparks of his own enthusiasm in his hometown of Chattanooga. There along with other enthusiasts, he started an organization called "Friends of the Carousel". With their help, he trained carvers, recruited an army of volunteers, secured funding and laid claim to a spectacular location for the restored machine in a specially developed park right on the banks of the Tennessee River.
Today in Coolidge Park, Chattanooga, you can see and hear and touch the glittering evidence that dreams really can come true. There, Bud's spangled heirloom whirls and dances to old-fashioned tunes played on a hand-built Stinson band organ. Magical animals of every description lovingly carved by the people of the community gallop with their smiling spellbound riders of all ages.
To house this hand-made treasure the city commissioned a sparkling glass building topped by a gilded weathervane pointing the way to future dreams.