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173 W Lorain St, Oberlin, OH 44074
(440) 775-8121

Oberlin Club of Washington, DC: Let's Celebrate: The Glen Echo Park Carousel is 100 Years Old

Join the Oberlin Club of Washington, DC on Saturday, July 24 for an on site talk led by Barbara Fahs Charles ’64, museum consultant and carousel historian. Celebrate the Glen Echo Park Carousel's centennial with investigation and rides.

$10 per person with all proceeds will going to the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture to assist in the restoration of the W. H. Dentzel carousel. Optional gathering afterwards at the Irish Inn.

Oberlin Club of Washington, DC: Let's Celebrate: The Glen Echo Park Carousel is 100 Years Old

The W. H. Dentzel carousel, built in Philadelphia in 1921, is one of the finest survivors of the golden age of carousels. It is still housed in its fabulous original building, and spins to the music of a Wurlitzer 165 band organ, one of the finest made.

The carousel and Glen Echo Park are on the National Register of Historic Places. After Glen Echo Amusement Park closed in 1968, the surrounding communities successfully advocated for the park to be preserved as an arts center and it is now part of the National Park Service. The carousel and band organ had been sold (but never moved). A frantic fund-raising effort in 1970 saved them. The carousel was beautifully restored over 20 years—a conservation effort that has set high standards for other carousels.

The year 2021 also marks the 60th anniversary of the ending of racial segregation policies at the Park. A sit-in at the carousel by Howard University students and others on June 30, 1960 and continual picketing by a coalition of Blacks and Whites for the rest of the 1960 summer season was the catalyst for the change.

For up to an hour after the carousel closes to the public, we will have a private talk about the history of the carousel and details to look for, time to investigate how the carousel and band organ operate, and plenty of opportunities to ride.

Cost: $10.00 per person (adult or child). All funds will go to the preservation of the carousel.

To learn more about the Glen Echo Park carousel:
Zoom talk: Glen Echo’s Two Great Carousels: Coney Island versus Philadelphia Style

Booklet: A Brief History of the First Hundred Years of the W. H. Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park

Afterwards, we can gather at the Irish Inn, adjacent to the park and an easy walk.

Barbara Fahs Charles ’64 had no interest in carousels until 1968 when she was working for the Office of Charles and Ray Eames and rented a cheap apartment above the carousel on the Santa Monica Pier. In 1971, she left the Eames design studio to make the first photo census of American carousels. After 5 months on the road, she decided to stay in Washington and started her own design practice. Robert Staples, senior designer at the Eames Office, joined her in 1973 and for forty-five years they designed major museum projects nationally and internationally.

To receive parking details and meet-up location, please contact Clyde Owan ’79 directly at:

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Oberlin Club of Washington, DC: Let's Celebrate: The Glen Echo Park Carousel is 100 Years Old

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