Virginia is home to six active classic carousels. We have only visited the carousels in Hampton and Charlottesville.
Virginia Discovery Museum
The carousel at the Virginia Discovery Museum is the last kiddie carousel of its kind. It is located on the pedestrian mall outside the museum. It was constructed by William Mangels, an inventor and manufacturer of amusements including carousels, in 1910 and consists of 7 aluminum kiddie horses which were cast from horses carved by Marcus Illions. The carousel is fully portable and is powered by hand. Little is known about the carousel’s 110-year journey, but it was acquired by Fred W. Scott Jr. of North Garden, Virginia in 2000. Mr. Scott generously donated the carousel to the museum. As can be seen from the photographs below, the horses are due for painting.
Hampton is home to a beautifully restored and maintained 1920 Philadelphia Toboggan Company (#50) carousel. The carousel has 32 jumpers, 16 standers and two chariots. The band organ is a 1914 Wilhelm Bruder and Sohn Model 79. The carousel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The carousel was originally in Buckroe Beach Amusement Park until 1985 when it was placed in storage. It has been at Hampton Park since 1991.
Rides are $1.00.
Although the carousel was open, it was not operating the day we visited. We thank Verzet for her hospitality. She turned on the band organ and allowed us to mingle with the horses on the platform.
Buckroe Beach Amusement Park was built when the Ohio and Chesapeake trolley line extended to the vicinity in 1882. An electric trolley line was extended to the beach in 1897. A hotel and amusement park were quickly developed. Buckroe Beach was a “White only” beach, but soon, adjacent property, Bay Shore, was developed into a “Colored only” beach/amusement park by African American businessmen. Bay Shore Beach and Amusement Park became just as glorious as the all-White Buckroe Beach and Amusement Park. While we were visiting the carousel in Hampton we met an African American man who rode on the carousel as a child when it was located at Buckroe Beach. He told us that the two beaches/amusement parks were separated by a chain link fence that extended into the bay. Both Buckroe Beach and Bay Shore Beach areas were heavily damaged by a hurricane in 1933. The beaches and amusement parks were re-built, but Bay Shore struggled and never returned to its pre-1933 glory. The hurricane can be cited as the beginning of desegregation as African Americans began using Buckroe Beach. Whites routinely climbed over the fence to see their favorite recording artists at Bay Shore. The beaches were officially desegregated in 1964. Bay Shore Beach Amusement Park closed operation in the 1970s. Buckroe Amusement Park was closed and dismantled in 1985.
For information on operating times call 757-727-1610 or access their web site at www.visithampton.com/play/listing/hampton-carousel.
For further information:
The National Carousel Association
Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfBjOw6rj8o
One of the rounding board panels
One of the inside panels