Streams

A Vintage Carousel Spins in Brooklyn

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The horses are nameless -- for now. Walentas is leaving the option to sponsor or name horses with donations to the non-profit fund that will run and regulate the carousel. The horses are nameless -- for now. Walentas is leaving the option to sponsor or name horses with donations to the non-profit fund that will run and regulate the carousel. (Julia Furlan/WNYC)

A newly restored vintage carousel featuring hand-carved horses and chariots is set to make its debut in its new Brooklyn home overlooking the East River on Friday.

Jane Walentas, who bought the carousel in 1984, spent the years since meticulously restoring the horses and chariots, using an X-acto knife to delicately peel layers of pain off the figures that were carved in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.

"It's not a labor of love," Walentas said. "It's an obsession."

Metropolitan Museum art restorers worked on the art on the carousel's inside panels, and Mercedez-Benz detail workers painted small details on bridles and saddles.

The Walentases purchased the carousel to save the 48 painted ponies, horses and two sleigh-like chariots from being sold piecemeal.

The ride was originally a part of a master plan for Brooklyn Bridge Park by David Walentas, Jane's husband, and one of the big names in the transformation of Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood. 

Twenty-seven years later, the carousel sits along the East River between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges awaiting visitors who will pay $2 for a three minute ride.

Walentas tears up when she thinks about filling the pavilion up with strolling couples and excited kids.

"When I walk down the street and little kids say, 'Oh I can't wait for the carousel' that really does touch me," she said.

The horses are nameless -- for now. Walentas is leaving the option to sponsor or name horses with donations to the non-profit fund that will run and regulate the carousel.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The horses are nameless -- for now. Walentas is leaving the option to sponsor or name horses with donations to the non-profit fund that will run and regulate the carousel.
The carousel's pavilion has retractable doors that allow for open views of the East River.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The carousel's pavilion has retractable doors that allow for open views of the East River.
The ceiling of the pavilion.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The ceiling of the pavilion.
Like any fun attraction, there are rules.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
Like any fun attraction, there are rules.
The original mirrors from 1922 have also been restored.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The original mirrors from 1922 have also been restored.
The horse's bridle was detailed by Mercedes-Benz detail workers. (The golden colored highlights are seen here.)
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The horse's bridle was detailed by Mercedes-Benz detail workers. (The golden colored highlights are seen here.)
Each horse is entirely unique, like this one, who wears silver armor. Walentas used silver and 24-carat gold for all of the silver and gold-leafing.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
Each horse is entirely unique, like this one, who wears silver armor. Walentas used silver and 24-carat gold for all of the silver and gold-leafing.
The original paint on the details, like this angel, has been restored meticulously.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The original paint on the details, like this angel, has been restored meticulously.
Two machines made of wood and metal will allow users to pay cash or credit card for their rides.
Julia Furlan/WNYC
Two machines made of wood and metal will allow users to pay cash or credit card for their rides.
The original organ was sold off long before the Walentases purchased the carousel, so Walentas purchased another organ (though the casing is original.)
Julia Furlan/WNYC
The original organ was sold off long before the Walentases purchased the carousel, so Walentas purchased another organ (though the casing is original.)

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