Carousel has been a part of popular culture for more than a thousand years. The earliest known visual record of a carousel appears in a Byzantine bas relief that is nearly 1,500 years old. The first documented carousel in America began operating in New England around 1800.
The heyday of the Carousel in America was between 1880 and 1920. In those years, skilled craftsmen hand carved realistic and sometimes highly imaginative animals and decorative pieces for the Carousel.
The St. Louis Carousel with its 60 horses, 4 deer and 2 sleighs was built in 1921 by two German Carvers from the Dentzel Company of Philadelphia, PA. In the spring of 1929, Forest Park Highlands, on Oakland Avenue announced the installation of it’s new attraction, the $30,000 St. Louis Carousel.
When the amusement park was destroyed by fire in 1963, the St. Louis Carousel escaped major damage. In order to keep the carousel in the St. Louis area, it was purchased by a St. Louisan, Howard C. Ohlendorf. In 1965, Mr. Ohlendorf donated the carousel to the St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation who placed it in Sylvan Springs Park until 1979. It became apparent that time and elements were taking their toll on the Carousel
Recognizing that the Carousel represented an important cultural artifact as well as a source of public amusement, the Historic Buildings Commission began to study ways to restore the Carousel and place it in a climate controlled facility to insure its preservation. The Carousel was opened in its present building at Faust Park on May 9, 1987. A not for profit corporation, the Faust Park Foundation, was formed to raise funds and other forms of support for the Carousel’s continual maintenance and restoration.
The Faust Park Foundation is continuing its maintenance of this beautiful piece of history. It is a delight to young and old.