PRESERVING A TREASURE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
At over 100 years old, Riverfront Park’s Looff Carrousel is one of America’s most beautiful and well preserved, hand-carved wooden carousels.
The new, expanded building for the Looff Carrousel allows for greater egress around the Carrousel itself, incorporates a larger event facility to better host everything from birthday parties to corporate events, provides expanded restrooms, concessions and a gift shop, as well as incorporates a climate controlled space to protect the longevity of the wood carvings.
Charles I. D. Looff was an accomplished carousel and amusement ride builder. He built the first carousel at Coney Island and in the process developed a new style of carousel construction that came to be known as the Coney Island style. In all he constructed over 50 carousels. He also built several roller coasters and twelve amusement parks as well as California’s famous Santa Monica Pier.
Looff built the Carrousel and had it shipped to Spokane as a wedding gift for his daughter Emma Vogel and her husband Louis Vogel. The pair owned Natatorium Park, which was originally a trolley park and later grew into an amusement park. The carousel was installed in 1909. The park closed down in 1968 and in 1975 the carousel was relocated to its current location in Riverfront Park. The original organ, a 1900 Ruth & Sohn Band Organ, is still in place, but due to the deterioration of some of its parts, a digital recording is now used.
There have been a few changes to the carousel over the years. In the 1960s, metal stirrups were added to the horses. Before this, there was only a small peg for the rider to use and people would often use the legs of the horses to help them climb up. This caused a lot of damage and many of the horses had to have legs replaced. Between 1992 and 1996 all of the figures underwent restoration, without any interruption of service. Now there is a maintenance system in place, where animals are rotated out for upkeep work.
The Looff Carrousel’s present building, just east of the south central entry to the Park, is undersized in regards to the following:
- Inability to adequately queue visitors to the Carrousel and allow for perimeter circulation
- Inability to display the carvings of the Carrousel
- Inability to host events (i.e. birthday parties, corporate events, etc.)
The building is also not climate controlled nor is it well-insulated. The lack of climate control aids in the rapid degeneration of the wood carvings, requiring much more intensive care and oversight in the long-term preservation of the Carrousel.
A NEW HOME
The new Looff Carrousel facility offers:
- New, expanded building to better spotlight the Carrousel
- Larger event facility for parties
- Climate control to protect wood carvings
- Greater relationship to the river for Carrousel riders
- Improved Concessions
- Gift Shop
Renderings courtesy of NAC Architecture
CONSTRUCTION -January 2017 – Early 2018
Bidding for construction closed on November 30, a contractor has been selected, and construction is in progress. The new building will be completed in early 2018.