Our first childhood memories of going to “the fair” was riding the carousel. Well, Meridian, MS has a unique treasure just waiting for you to walk through the door to bring back those great memories of childhood in a less hectic time. It puts a smile on your face and you are young again. What can do this – the Dentzel Carousel.
The carousel is the only surviving two row stationary Dentzel Carousel in its original house. Built in 1896 for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition by Gustav Dentzel of Philadelphia, PA. The carousel was sold to the city of Meridian in 1909. The house and carousel has occupied the same place in Highland Park since coming to Meridian. In 1986 the carousel and house were designated as a National Landmark.
Another interesting aspect of this carousel, is the menagerie of animals. There are twenty eight figures including horses, goats, deer, giraffe, lion and tiger. Chariots are interspersed among the animals. The figures are hand carved out of poplar or basswood and secured to the wooden platform by brass poles. Around the top are three tiers of sixty four original oil paintings. Legend has it that one of the paintings covers up the instructions for a Brass Ring Machine. The expression “catch the brass ring” is believed to come from the game.
The Carousel House is said to be the only surviving structure built from a Dentzel blueprint. The house has windows just under the cone shaped roof which allows light into the structure. Although not used, the original ticket booth is next to the carousel. It states, No food drinks or smoking on the carousel. June and July are the only months the carousel is open daily. Other months it is open only weekends.
Probably the most surprising of all is the cost of a ride – $.50. That is correct. There are few places that offer a walk down memory lane for only fifty cents.