After five years, the Jantzen Beach carousel has finally returned.
The much loved, historic carousel hasn't been seen by the public since 2012. Its maintenance was only verbally accounted for and its location was unknown to the general public and city officials. But this morning, Restore Oregon announced that they have acquired the carousel and are currently storing it until they find a suitable place, as reported by The Oregonian.
“With all the tragedy of the Gorge and the fire, we’re excited to talk about something so completely positive,” Peggy Moretti, Restore Oregon executive director tells WW. “It’s one of those things that means so much to people.”
The carousel was carved by C.W. Parker for the world's fair in 1904 in St Louis. It's been in Portland since 1928 when it was repossessed from a California company who couldn't afford payments. The carousel was a central piece of the Janzten Beach amusement park, which lasted from 1928 to 1970.
But in 2012, the carousel was removed by Edens Corp, the former owners of the Jantzen Beach Shopping Center. They put the carousel into storage, with the promise of reopening, after a $50 million mall renovation was complete.
Except the carousel didn't return.
Restore Oregon and multiple publications, including WW, reached out to Edens Corp, but the company remained silent, until Commissioner Nick Fish's office contacted them in 2015.
Edens Corp told Fish's office that the carousel was intact and safely in storage at the new Jantzen Beach Shopping Center, prompting the Oregonian to report that the carousel had been found in July 2015.
But until today, nobody has reported seeing the carousel, much to the dismay of hundreds of Portland residents. There was even a Save the Jantzen Beach Carousel Facebook group with more than 600 members that was created to track the location of the carousel. Restore Oregon had also placed it on the list of Most Endangered Places in the state.
Edens Corp. approached Restore Oregon about the carousel back in April, offering them the carousel as a gift. There are no hard numbers on how much the carousel is worth, but the Oregonian says that it's worth millions.
According to Restore Oregon executive director Peggy Moretti, it is the last C.W. Parker carousel in existence.
Now, Restore Oregon is tasked with finding a new home for the 57-foot diameter carousel, which may prove difficult. The nonprofit stipulates that the carousel must be in a well-trafficked Portland area (which includes Vancouver), be indoors, operate year-round and offer inexpensive rides.
The group has created a committee to consider proposals for the new location, which includes Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, former Gov. Barbara Roberts and Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale.
If you have any ideas, you can submit them to Restore Oregon here.