Courtesy of Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts & Culture
Originally Published by: Bethesda Magazine on 06/19/2019
Written By: Charlie Wright
Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park will be shut down for the rest of the season as crews work to replace its roof and make other structural updates.
The carousel will close on July 1 and is expected to be ready by spring 2020.
The teal-and-magenta roof of the multi-colored “house” containing the carousel must be entirely replaced, said Katey Boerner, executive director of the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture.
The park and its whirling attraction are owned by the National Park Service, while the county through the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture handles management of the site and day-to-day operations. The county took over a greater role in park management following a new 10-year agreement signed in July 2018.
Following the roof replacement, crews will install a fire suppression system and swap out the rotting structure currently surrounding the band organ, Boerner said.
“The carousel is in fabulous shape, the band organ is in fabulous shape, we’re just taking care of stuff that surrounds it and the protective systems there,” Boerner said.
Dentzel Carousel was installed at the park in 1921, featuring a canopy and carved figures created by the Dentzel Carousel Co. of Germantown, Pennsylvania, according to the partnership. The carousel was fully restored from 1983 to 2003, including repainting the animals in their original colors.
The roof was not restored during the two decades of construction, just repainted, Boerner said.
Federal, state and county funds will go toward the project, and $1.35 million has been budgeted for the work, Boerner said.
The National Park Service has set aside $479,000 for the roof and $172,000 for the fire suppression system and band organ structure, Boerner said. The county is chipping in $250,000 through an Arts Capital Improvement Grant for the roof and $98,000 for the other restorations. The state will provide $60,000 for the fire suppression system and band organ structure through the Maryland Heritage Areas Program.
Boerner said there was no choice but to close the carousel for part of the season because the work had to be done when the weather was appropriate for roofing. The initial plan was to close for the entire year, but the National Park Service allowed them to operate from the end of April through June.
The carousel draws around 50,000 riders annually, Boerner said, and the partnership will likely miss out on about 30,000 customers, though the update will help prepare for the 100th anniversary celebration in 2021.
“It really is a precious object in this community,” Boerner said “It’s one of the best carousels in the United States, and it’s here in the county.”