On a recent trip to Southern California I discovered Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, full of artists, breweries and great restaurants. What I didn’t expect to find in this part of town was an Allan Herschell Carousel. Built in 1916, the Herschell Carousel at Chase Palm Park in Santa Barbara, California is one of only three machines produced by the Allan Herschel Factory. While I never considered myself an authority on antique carousels, I’ve made it a point to visit these magical merry-go-rounds whenever I have an opportunity during my travels.
Wooden carousel horses are unique in that creating a handmade horse – or any animal for that matter – takes a significant amount of man (or woman) hours. I had the pleasure of touring the Albany Carousel & Museum in Albany, Oregon to see first-hand how these blocks of wood come to life under the care of a carver and a painter. So the next time you spy a carousel, look to see if you are riding an antique.
Allan Herschell Factory
A little history on Allan Herschell and his carousel horses. Allan Herschell was born in 1851 in Scotland. One of over a dozen children, he left school early to learn the mold making trade. He arrived in Buffalo, New York and sought work as a foundry foreman. The steam operated merry-go-round began in 1884. Unfortunately, the Allan Herschell Company eventually went bankrupt. Following the bankruptcy, Herschell created a partnership and the Herschell Spillman Company was formed. Hershell retired in 1911 but came out of retirement in 1915 to launch his own company with the help of F.W. Frische and John Wender. During his early years running the business, from 1915 to 1917, his company produced three machines. Fortunately for us, this carousel still exists today and has been placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Did you know that the National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for identifying and adding these historic and archeological places to the National Register of Historic Places? From now through November 2016 NPS will be sharing some of their favorite preservation work. Use the hash tags #findyourpark #Preservation50 and #50for50 when you include stories such as this one. For additional insider tips follow @Nancydbrown and @ridinghorseback on Twitter and follow me on Instagram @Nancydbrown.