In 2003 fundraising for the project was not doing that well and it looked like the project might stall. Other suggestions for where to locate the carousel were: Public Square, Mall C, and the Cleveland Zoo. In October of that year Northeast Shores Development Corporation, the non-profit agency working to redevelop Cleveland's North Collinwood neighborhood where the old amusement park was located, revealed a revitalization plan developed by Kent State University's Urban Design Center. What once was the eastern portion of the amusement park is a public park in 2003 managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, adjacent to that is a trailer park. The historic arch, entrance to the old park, stands at the access to two high-rise, senior citizen apartment buildings, a nursing home, and a Section 8 low-income housing complex. These and some retail establishments along the boulevard make up the west end and remainder of the old park property. Besides changes along the boulevard the plan proposed a reconfigured entrance to the public park. Open up the entrance to accommodate the historic arch which would be moved to the park's access. A proposal would be made to the Western Reserve Historical Society to include the carousel in the public park. Next to the carousel could be a ticket office and gift shop with Euclid Beach Park memorabilia.
The revitalization plan was never executed. A Euclid Beach Carrousel Committee was formed consisting of individuals living in the neighborhood, a few board members of Euclid Beach Park Now (EBPN), and others. The mission was to promote the carousel's return to the Euclid Beach Park site. Northeast Shores Development Corporation arranged a meeting with WRHS in 2007. Neighborhood representatives and board members of EBPN met with WRHS to see if a discussion could start about getting the carousel up and running. The group, which called themselves the Euclid Beach Carrousel Committee, was asked to develop a proposal and was also told that another group was working on a plan for the carousel. EBPN assisted with the proposal and co-sponsored the plan with Northeast Shores Development Corporation that was submitted to WRHS in May of 2009. At that time it was the only proposal EBPN knew about and rumors persisted about another interested group with a plan for the carousel. Then there was an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the carousel and it mentioned the other group and its spokesperson, Dr. Raymond Rackley. A board member of EBPN placed a phone call to Dr. Rackley and asked if he would be interested in meeting EBPN’s board regarding the proposal his group was working on. He accepted and attended the October 2009 board meeting to share what he could on the proposal.
This other group got its start in the mid 2000's by Ralph Kovel. Ralph was a successful Cleveland business man but is best remembered for co-writing, with his wife Terry, books on antiques and collectibles. Their 100th book was published in September of 2011. They also had a syndicated question-and-answer newspaper column that ran in 100 or more newspapers. Long before Antiques Roadshow the Kovel's started appearing on television beginning in 1969. Their first shows were made on film with one camera and no editing. The half-hour shows were produced for Cleveland's public television station WVIZ. They had a show on the Discovery Channel Collector's Journal with Ralph and Terry Kovel and on the Home and Garden Network Flea Market Finds with the Kovels. Besides all this and lectures, Ralph found time to serve on a few boards. He was a member of the Society of Collectors and Board Trustee for Cleveland Pops Orchestra, PBS Television Station WVIZ, Radio Station WCPN, and Western Reserve Historical Society. Ralph attempted to begin a project that would see the Euclid Beach Park Carousel repaired, restored and returned to operation. To that end he asked his close friend and business associate Raymond Rackley, MD, to help with the project.
Raymond Rackley is a Professor of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University and Staff in the Center for Pelvic Health and Reconstructive Surgery with the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute also of the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Rackley earned his biomedical engineering degree from Duke University and his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University. On a personnel note, Dr. Rackley moved to the Cleveland area following his marriage to Carmen Foneca, MD. They are raising a daughter and son. Together they are supporting varied activities that serve the Cleveland community.
In August of 2008 Ralph Kovel passed away of complications after hip surgery. His wife Terry took over Ralph's dream of seeing the Euclid Beach Park Carousel in operation and she and Rackley are co-founders and directors of The Cleveland Carousel.
The Euclid Beach Carrousel Committee and The Cleveland Carousel both requested EBPN's support. At the December 2010 EBPN board meeting a vote was taken and the majority vote was to support the proposal presented by Dr. Rackley. What convinced EBPN's board was Dr. Rackley's enthusiasm for the project, his optimism and confidence in the timetable, and the names of influential Clevelanders who supported the proposal including Dudley Humphrey and his wife Betsy. It was Dudley's great-grandfather who purchased Euclid Beach Park back in 1901. Dr. Rackley extended board seats to four EBPN board members, including President John Frato who is also serving as Executive Secretary to Cleveland's Euclid Beach Park Carousel Society , name the organization changed to.
The Carousel Society's proposed project did start moving forward. In January 2010 board members from the Society and EBPN met with University Circle Inc., non-profit organization continuing to develop Ohio's most spectacular square mile - University Circle. They were supportive of including the carousel within the Circle, the premier urban district and world class center of education, medical, and arts & cultural institutions which sees 2.5 million visitors annually. A few locations were discussed. Three board members of the Society met with board members of the Western Reserve Historical Society proposing the carousel be established within the walls of their History Center located in University Circle. The plan was accepted by the board and on June 30, 2010, a press conference was held at the WRHS announcing the plan to the public. The Carousel Society will undertake a six-year fundraising campaign to rebuild the carousel. $2 million was targeted for restoration and installation on the main floor of the WRHS History Center. $4 million would provide an endowment to support the carousel. WRHS President and CEO Gainor B. Davis stated at the press conference that various proposals have been made over the years since 2000. "This is one we said "Yes" to because it is practical and ensures the carousel's future".
After researching carousel restoration firms in Ohio, a contract was signed with Carousel Works to have them restore/repair the frame and mechanism of PTC#19. Carousel Magic who restored the horses and chariots back in 1998 was now out of business. Carousel Works is the largest manufacturer of wooden carousels in the world. They specialize in making carousel magic by pioneering the production of over 45 new innovative wooden carousels located in cities across the country. They take pride in providing customers with the utmost quality of craftsmanship; the unique aesthetics of its experienced artisans; and the dream-like quality of the wooden and brass carousels. Their strength is the ability to manage a carousel project from conception to installation all under one roof. Carousel Works is bringing back the lights, music and magic of carousels one city at a time! On two consecutive days in November of 2011 a crew from Carousel Works loaded and moved #19 parts from two WRHS storage areas to their facility in Mansfield, OH. As reported back in 1997, when PTC#19 was dismantled at Palace Playland for the move to Cleveland for auction, some pieces were damaged including the platform and ring gear. The horses and chariots were loaded for the trip from Maine to Ohio and the other pieces of the carousel placed in three storage facilities. The firm contracted after the auction to retrieve the parts in storage knew of only two. The parts in the third were discarded by the time someone realized items were missing.
Early in 2012 a $3 million major renovation began at WRHS closing existing exhibit space until the transformation was completed. Wanting to break ground for a carousel pavilion in 2013 the Carousel Society determined it was advantageous to begin construction along with WRHS. On April 17, 2012, a ceremonial ground-breaking took place for the carousel pavilion, a 6000 square foot addition to the museum's building with a thirty-two foot circular glass wall. The structure was designed by the local, internationally recognized, architectural firm of Richard Fleishman and Partners. A replica of the Euclid Beach Arch grace both the outer and inner wall entrance spaces flanged by two large window enabling the operating carousel to be viewed by visitors from the main museum exhibit area.
The pavilion was completed in March of 2013 and an open house was scheduled for April 25, 2013. The open house launched the public phase of the fundraising campaign to raise the remaining $1.35 million for the restoration and reassembly of the carousel. The Carousel Society took the opportunity to thank donors contributing to date: KeyBank Foundation, The Nordson Corporation, The Hershey Foundation, Lou U. Horvitz Fund, Lincoln Electric Corporation Foundation, Carousel Society Board members, and the National Carousel Association. The campaign featured a number of funding opportunities for businesses, philanthropies, and individuals to donate at many levels. Of course there is "adopt-a-horse" or sponsorship of a chariot or new original artwork. Donors can have their names engraved on tiles that will be placed in the indoor circular sitting area. Bricks were also offered which are immediately inside the pavilion as one enters.
One question that was most often asked related to the future appearance of PTC#19. No photos have been found or discovered showing a close-up of the horses or interior of the carousel in the early years. There are numerous photos of #19 when installed in 1910 and early photos and postcards of the carousel taken at a distance to include the pavilion but none showing the carousel in the pavilion. During its 59 seasons at Euclid Beach Park the carousel had two different looks. The first, is when it was installed. Rounding boards adorned with cherubs holding a swag, and beveled mirrors can be made out in the 1910 photo. With today's computer technology you can zoom in toward the center surround, yet much cannot be determined. One can make-out some ornate scroll work between the upper surround panels. Mirrors appear to have been part of the lower surround panels. Sometime in the 30's the carousel was refurbished to an art deco appearance which Euclid Beach Park also incorporated into the facades of its three roller coasters, the band stand in the dance pavilion, and the rounding boards of the Mangels/Illions kiddie carousel. The rounding boards were changed as were the upper surround panels. Ornate carvings framing the surround panels were removed. At installation the carousel had a vaulted ceiling and it remained with the art deco appearance. Illuminated shields were also added. At this time it is believed the appearance of the horses also changed. During restoration, on some of the inside row horses a second hole was noted on their bellies. It is believed the horses were at an angle much like PTC#18 and altered including the re-carving of legs. The horses were painted all white with just the trappings in color. When the carousel arrived at Palace Playland alterations were made during its operation. The vaulted ceiling was removed, and believed destroyed. Colored panels with incandescent lights and large mirrors made up the center surround. The art deco rounding boards were painted white and the horses received coats of "park" paint.
For the restoration the original 1910 rounding boards were replicated, but downsized. The illuminated art deco shields were refurbished and used. The sixteen upper surround panels feature new, original paintings of vintage Cleveland scenes. The sixteen lower surround panels have new original iconic paintings of rides and attractions from Euclid Beach Park. Decorative scroll work returned from Old Orchard Beach, Maine, possibly from 1910 or the art deco makeover, was restored and used. The center pole is slightly damaged but was repaired and used as will as the large timbers of the mud sills. Carousel Works evaluating the sweeps, cross sweeps and other components which were all replaced with new.
The individuals mentioned in this article are members of a diversified Cleveland's Euclid Beach Park Carousel Society who with the Western Reserve Historical Society board and staff worked together to get the ready for its first riders. For donors this was on November 22, 2014, the public the next day.
Welcome! Check out the new article at the bottom of the CONTACT US page.
LAST DANCE AT THE BEACH, by Neil Rozum, former Euclid Beach Park Employee and member of Euclid Beach Park Now.
The above article appeared in The Arch, Euclid Beach Park Now's Quarterly Newsletter Volume 25, Issue 1, Winter 2013-2014