SANDPOINT — After 64 years in hibernation, 36 horses will finally be free of their stable when a time capsule reveals what is believed to be a 1920 Allan Herschell Carousel next Saturday.
Project coordinator Jan Griffitts said although the carousel needs restoration work, all the pieces are there, including the 36 hand-carved wooden horses, rounding boards and original artwork.
"When they put it in the truck they took the paint off of all but two of (the horses), because the paint was not real good, so we have a couple that at least have some color but the rest have to be repainted," Griffitts said.
The carousel was packed into two cargo trailers and stored in a field outside of Kansas City, Mo., after a Midwest traveling fair shut down for the 1952 season and never reopened. Clay and Reno Hutchison of Sandpoint saved the carousel from being broken up and sold at auction when they purchased it 16 years ago. The Hutchisons moved it to a storage barn in upstate New York until it was recently delivered to Sandpoint.
"It has been difficult to resist unloading these trailers," the Hutchisons said in a statement released Nov. 16. "It will be so exciting to finally see what is really in there. We can see at least one chariot through a front trailer window, but we cannot tell how simple or elaborate the carving may be. The time is right to get the restoration project going and get this amazing 96- (or so) year-old machine back to its purpose, bringing smiles to the faces of kids and kids at heart — making new memories."
The couple have dubbed the machine "The Carousel of Smiles."
Griffitts said she and the Hutchisons would like to see the carousel find a permanent home in Sandpoint after it is unveiled and restored.
"It's big, about the size of the one in Spokane, and we'd love to have it in a year-round building," Griffitts said.
In the statement, Bette Largent, curator of Spokane's Riverfront Park Looff Carrousel and president of the National Carousel Association, said between 4,000 and 5,000 carousels existed in the United States from the late 1800s into the 1960s. Today, only 152 operating classic wooden carousels remain.
"It is so rare that we discover a carousel that is so preserved with its original components and artwork," Largent said in the statement. "It just doesn't happen every day. The NCA celebrates these discoveries as we know there are so few of them out there that remain hidden. Sadly, many of them ended up in the scrap heap, were used for firewood or are sitting in someone's living room. That isn't their purpose — they are meant to be ridden and enjoyed by all generations."
The unveiling will take place at 11 a.m. at the Sandpoint Granary, 513 Oak St. in Sandpoint.