The historic Jantzen Beach Carousel has delighted Oregon and Washington residents and visitors for over 90 years, and has been synonymous with family fun and childhood joy since its installation as an attraction at the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park in 1928. Despite widespread adoration, the carousel provided its last ride on April 22, 2012. It was then disassembled and placed in storage, with no concrete plans for returning it to the public. Restore Oregon—a non-profit that advocates for sound preservation policy and legislation as well as to preserve, reuse and pass forward the historic places that create livable communities—added the carousel to its list of Oregon’s Most Endangered Places shortly thereafter, where it remains listed to this day. SERA joined Restore Oregon and other design professionals to prepare conceptual design solutions to imagine how a return of the Carousel could be realized.
SERA’s design concept features a large, timber-framed pavilion with a curtain wall exterior to showcase the carousel and house additional programming to help the attraction be financially sustainable. The pavilion is topped with a series of diagrid roof domes that appear to float above the space. The roof is supported by tree-shaped columns. A surrounding plaza, with tiered programmable spaces, integrated seating and a reflective water feature, serves as both an event space and second living room for the city. A final location for the project has yet to be determined. “Creating a new home for the carousel is an exciting development opportunity that will connect generations by sharing a unique part of our region’s history and creating treasured memories,” said Steven Ehlbeck, an architect and associate at SERA.
Designed and built by C.W. Parker in 1921, the Jantzen Beach Carousel is one of the biggest and fastest wooden carousels of its type left in the world. Weighing approximately 20 tons, it has a diameter of 67 feet and features four rows of 72 horses, plus two elaborately carved chariots. It measures 28 feet in height at its tallest point. The carousel is currently dismantled and securely stored. Its future depends on securing a permanent new site for it. Because its hand-carved, hand-painted wooden elements are nearly a century old, the carousel must be housed indoors in a climate-controlled environment to ensure its longevity.