Thursday, May 19, 2011

Five Years of the Empire State Carousel in Cooperstown

By: Mary Margaret Kuhn, Carousel Supervisor

On Memorial Day Weekend the Empire State Carousel will celebrate its fifth anniversary here at The Farmers’ Museum.  I wanted to share some of the history of the carousel with our readers, and I hope that you will come and ride with us.

Gerry Holzman, a woodcarver and retired teacher, developed the idea for the Empire State Carousel in 1982.  With his work and the help of over 1,000 volunteers, carving and painting proceeded until the Empire State Carousel included 21 hand-carved animals, three vintage horses, three bench rides, a vintage spinning Lover’s Tub (now known affectionately as the Mighty Blue Vomit Comet), portrait panels of famous New Yorkers, folklore panels and murals depicting specific historical moments, and the silhouettes of signature buildings from around the state.  The dream of the Empire State Carousel traveling to all 63 counties in New York State was beyond economic reach, but it moved around Long Island among a number of temporary homes beginning in 2003.  The Farmers’ Museum received the carousel in 2005 and put the animals and mechanism in storage.  Work was begun to construct the twelve-sided building to house it permanently.

Altonview Architects of Cooperstown was engaged to design the year-round building.  Fred Wyckoff and Sons did a great deal of the construction. In the first photo you can see the fabulous dropped ceiling that they built to conceal the overhead doors when retracted.  Philip and Wesley Paddock worked on the plumbing, electrical and radiant heating under the tile floor.  The facilities crew of The Farmers’ Museum worked hand in hand to see the building to completion for the Grand Opening which took place on Memorial Day Weekend of 2006.  

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