From the shores of Lake Erie to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, PTC#19 found a new home in the popular, summer beach destination of Old Orchard Beach, Maine.The town is approximately 16 miles south of Portland, Maine. The main street, Old Orchard Street, ends at Saco Bay, leading to the Atlantic Ocean. Just a few steps north of the main street's turn-around is Old Orchard Pier, extending out into the Atlantic Ocean. At the end of the pier was the Pier Casino, a ballroom which could hold 5,000 dancers. When first built in 1898 it extended 1,825 feet into the ocean. Storms have claimed part of the structure at least three times. Each time it was rebuilt it got shorter. Its current length is 500 feet.
Note: The view on the left is from an early 1980's postcard, Lusterchrome, by Tichnor Bros., Inc.
Immediately south of the main street's turnaround is the small amusement park Palace Playland and its carousel pavilion. The Portland Press Herald has PTC#19 arriving in 1971. To the right is a postcard view of the carousel showing the rounding boards the same as they did the last day of operation at Euclid Beach Park, in the "art deco" style. The history of PTC#19 at Palace Playland was nearly cut short. A fire erupted in the Palace Playland Pavilion that ran the length of a block and next to the carousel, on December 23, 1972. The carousel survived secured in its pavilion shown in the photo below.
Note: The view on the right is from an early 1980's postcard, Lusterchrome, by Tichnor Bros., Inc.
Note: The photo below courtesy of Laff In The Dark, The World of Dark Ride and Funhouse, used with permission.
A 1987 newspaper article from the Old Orchard Beach area reported about a commercial artist who was repainting the carousel. The article stated that this same artist restored the carousel in 1971. The photo gallery below shows the appearance of the horses in 1982. The horses were no longer painted white with just the saddles and trappings getting colors, but repainted in a variety of colors and hues. The carousel's frame also saw changes when in Maine. The curved, vaulted ceilings and the inner scenery panels, which hid the center pole and its supports were removed. The rounding boards were repainted sometimes before 1982 as seen in the photo below.
The auction for PTC#19 was held on July 19, 1997. 28 years earlier to the date, July 19, 1969, there was a devastating fire at the amusement park across the street from Palace Playland. The fire started just before 8:00 P.M. and was not brought under control until almost midnight. 10 fire companies from Old Orchard Beach and surrounding communities were on site with a total of 26 pieces of equipment. The fire started in the Moon Ride which was lost along with Noah's Ark, Coal Mine, Jack & Jill Slide, Dentzel Merry-Go-Round and damage to the entrance of The Pier. Cause of the fire may have been a penny used in the fuse box of the Mood Ride.
Note: Photo on the right taken in 1982, courtesy of Rich Wickens
Note: All photos in the above gallery, PTC#19 at Palace Playland 1982, courtesy of Gigi Hopkins.
by Rich Wickens, Used With Permission
On September 21, 1996, an article in the Portland Press Herald had the headline “Old Orchard Beach May Lose Its Historic Carousel.” The commentary stated: “A bit of the town's history is up for sale.” The owner of the Palace Playland said the carousel was owned by a charitable organization run by his uncle and aunt. His uncle owned the park in the 1970s when the carousel was purchased. The article did not report why the carousel was for sale. It did mention a Cleveland organization, Euclid Beach Park Nuts (EBPN), who would possibly work to raise the funds to see the carousel returned to its hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. EBPN was and is a fan/booster club for old Euclid Beach Park made up of former park employees and others with memories of the park.
Note: Founded in 1989 as the Euclid Beach Park Nuts. Getting involved with the carousel the organization filed for 501(c)3 non-profit status and changed its name to Euclid Beach Park Now.
In November of 1996 a group of about 20 individuals in Old Orchard Beach formed “Save Our Carousel in Old Orchard Beach” to try and save the carousel and keep it in the town. They made a proposal to the charitable organization but had yet to raise any funds. The article continued that the gentleman involved with the charity was hopeful he could find a buyer that would insure the carousel would remain in town. The article further stated Palace Playland had been for sale several years before with no one coming forward to purchase the ocean front park.
A February 1997 newspaper article reported Palace Playland was sold two months prior, to two gentleman who lived in Florida and owned eight of the park’s rides. The article continued the two new owners were working to keep the carousel in town as was the foundation that owned the carousel. We know those efforts failed. Later in 1997 Norton of Michigan was contracted to hold the auction for PTC#19. It was rumored individuals suggested to Norton of Michigan to hold the auction in the Cleveland area, because of the nostalgia and attachment Clevelanders have with Euclid Beach Park higher prices could be obtained. The auctioneer knew of the Euclid Beach Park Nuts. In 1982 Shady Lake Park closed, the Humphrey Family deciding to devote more time to its popcorn, popcorn ball, and candy kiss business. Most of the items from their Shady Lake Park were sold and found their way to Old Indiana Fun Park located in Thornton, Indiana. That park closed with all assets going up for auction under Norton of Michigan in February of 1997. Many EBPN members and Clevelanders made the drive to the auction to bid on and take home some Euclid Beach Park memorabilia, noted by Norton of Michigan. In the early spring of 1997 a call from Norton of Michigan was made to the then President of EBPN asking if he knew of a venue where the auction for #19 could be held. Coincidently, EBPN had planned for a memorabilia show on the west side of Cleveland at Trolleyville, U.S.A. on July 19, 1997. Trolleyville was an operating trolley museum with about 35 trolleys in its collection including one that once carried park-goers to Euclid Beach Park. The memorabilia show was billed as “Ride a Trolley to Euclid Beach.” The trolley museum has closed in 2005.
Since hearing PTC#19 could be sold and maybe split up, EBPN began a letter-writing campaign aimed at government, business, and civic leaders to generate help. In the early spring of 1997 when the auction was announced, a weekly local newspaper ran a story in some of its Cleveland suburban and neighborhood editions. The local representative for the Trust for Public Land (TPL) read about the auction and campaign and contacted the president of EBPN with possible sites for the carousel and ways to get financial assistance. The part-time TPL representative was also a community development consultant and from contacts learned a Cleveland civic organization was interested in having the carousel return. The funds needed by the organization would not be attainable within the time constraints, so the TPL representative approached TPL to ask if they could be of assistance. Around the end of June 1997 TPL approved financial assistance in making the initial purchase of the carousel on behalf of the civic organization.
On the day of the auction a TPL vice-president and attorney were in Cleveland from TPL’s San Francisco headquarters with funds made available from the Ford Foundation. Fifty four horses, 2 chariots, and the frame were offered. The total bids for the individual horses and chariots were totaled to arrive at a starting bid for the entire carousel, $505,000. TPL had made available enough funds; however as the bidding started the unknown was whether someone or some other entity was present and interested in the entire machine. When the opening bid was called the VP from TPL held up her bid card. A glad stirring was felt in the auction tent. The next bid needed to be at a certain amount higher as set by the auctioneer. The bid was called and a gentleman in the crowd held up his bid card. Again the crowd stirred. Next bid, again had to be at a higher percentage and when asked for the TPL VP raised her bid card. Another bid was asked for, none was made and the gentleman making the second bid was now heading for the exit.
When the announcement came from the auctioneer “SOLD” a great cheer rose in the tent. With a “Buyers Premium” added to the final amount bid, the cost of the carousel was $715,000. The TRP VP announced to those assembled in the auction tent they were there to bid on the complete carousel on behalf of a civic organization and local preservationist who hoped to see #19 operate again in Cleveland. This message brought a great cheer from those in the tent and soon spread to the large crowd who collected outside the tent, kept at a distance from those who paid a fee to be inside.
Rumor had it that, in rushing to disassemble PTC#19, shortcuts were taken. It was said at some time while at Palace Playland, plywood was nailed to the carousel’s platform. This made it difficult for a quick and easy disassembly so a chainsaw was used to remove the platform and also on the drop rods. A lift truck was used to remove the main gear and was not of sufficient capacity for the weight of the gear, so as the gear was being removed it fell to the ground and cracked.
The horses and chariots moved to Cleveland for the auction were placed in storage and arrangements were made to retrieve the balance of PTC#19. Two truckloads of carousel parts made their way to Ohio from two storage units in Maine. Sometime after, it was learned there was a third storage unit the new owners were unaware of. The owner of the storage unit, not knowing who now owned the items in his unit and thus not able to contact anyone after the rental period elapsed, discarded the items. What may have been in that storage unit, possibly ornamental panels and mechanical equipment.
The Trust for Public Land purchased the carousel in behalf of Cleveland Tomorrow and was paid back. Founded in 1981 Cleveland Tomorrow was a private civic organization made up of more than 50 chief executive officers of the largest companies in the Cleveland area. December 4, 1997 at the 25th anniversary luncheon of the Cleveland Restoration Society the then incoming chairman of Cleveland Tomorrow unveiled from under white sheets; the outside row lead armored and garland horses. He made the announcement that the proposed site for the Euclid Beach Park Carousel would be Cleveland's East 9th Street Pier. Plans were to restore and preserve the carousel as a year-round attraction at North Coast Harbor now known as Voinovich Bicentennial Park. Also announced was that the Western Reserve Historical Society had been brought in as a partner to oversee the carousel's preservation. At that time it was hoped that everything would fall into place so the carousel could open Spring or early Summer of 1999. Cleveland Tomorrow's chairman headed a 19 member committee working to update the city's 8 year old downtown development plan, Civic Vision 2000 and Beyond. Plan included the reorientation of downtown Cleveland toward the waterfront.
On February 4, 1998 Cleveland Tomorrow announced that Carousel Magic, then located in Mansfield, Ohio would restore the 54 figures and 2 chariots. The two horses present at the announcement of the anniversary luncheon are seen in the window of Carousel Magic before they were restored. While in the process of being restored it was discovered that at some point in the carousel's history the figures were sandblasted for repainting. In carousel restoration this is not done instead each layer of paint is removed so as to get to the first which would be the factory paint. colors when first installed. Original colors could not therefore be identified plus sandblasting removed some of the carved detail. During restoration belly plates were found at the bottom of each horse consecutively numbered with numbers missing. It was then determined four of the original horses were missing. No one knows when or where. Cleveland Tomorrow asked Euclid Beach Park Now if they would be willing to take on the fundraising to replace the four horses. They accepted and went about to raise the $25,000.
Originally some of the horses were carved to be installed at an angle, shown in the photo to the right. At some point new holes were drilled so when reinstall they would be in a more horizontal position. The photo on the left shows the mounting hole with the old, original hole plugged. Not sure when this may have been done, possibly when the carousel was altered to the "art deco" style. It is believed the legs then had to be re-carved/reshaped.
With the change some legs had to be recarved. The above photo shows the angle some the horses would have been originally on PTC#19 when installed in 1910. The photo is of a horse on PTC#18.
Note: Photo used with permission of the National Carousel Association Photo Show Project, 1909 PTC#18 at Destiny USA, Syracuse, NY, courtesy of Ann Lioio.
On April 22, 1999 the design of the carousel pavilion was approved by the city's Design Review Committee. The next day the plan was presented to the city's Planning Commission.
The estimated project costs for the carousel endeavor was $5 million.
Fundraising for the $5 million project was not easy. In 2001 the carousel figures and other parts were in storage with the Western Reserve Historical Society. Heinen's, Cleveland's last remaining family-owned grocery store chain wanted to help. August of 2001 Heinen's ran a two-week, in-store promotion in support of the carousel project. The promotion was in partnership with Cleveland Tomorrow, the Western Reserve Historical Society, and local family-owned and operated businesses.
A percentage of sales from participating products were donated to the project. At the time Heinen's had 13 stores in the Cleveland area and each had on display a horse from the Euclid Beach Park Carousel. The 54 horses and 2 chariots were restored and in storage at a Western Reserve Historical Society facility. Also on display at each store were original ride cars from the amusement park. Enlarged photos from Euclid Beach Park's past, with the promotion's theme, Euclid Beach Park Days . . . Celebrating Cleveland Families were suspended overhead.
The original ride cars displayed are owned by The Euclid Beach Boys. The ride cars and other Euclid Beach Park memorabilia, along with items from Geauga Lake and Chippewa Lake Parks are on display at their Event Center and Museum. They also own and operate a motorized Rocket Ship and Thriller Car.
Heinen's and the participating companies wanted to demonstrate their commitment to the community in support of offering the fifth generation of Clevelanders a chance to ride the same Euclid Beach Park Carousel as past generations.
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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