We are the only museum in the world housed in an authentic,
original carousel factory building.
The building and our 1916 carousel are listed on
both the New York State and National Registers of Historic Sites.
We are located at 180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda, NY 14120.
The Lockman Collection of 20 hand-carved carousel
animals which document the changes in style and ownership of the North
Tonawanda carousel companies.
A 26-photo exhibit documenting the production of a carousel at the
Herschell-Spillman Company factory, from delivery of lumber to setup in
The Wurlitzer Music Roll Shop contains the only
remaining music roll production equipment from the Wurlitzer Company.
The Carousels: The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum currently operates two
historic carousels inside its building complex in North Tonawanda.
The large 1916 #1 Special carousel is 40 feet in diameter, has 36 hand carved horses
and over 580 lights. This carousel was one of the first machines the company shipped
after it opened for business at the Thompson Street location in 1915.
It rotates at
approximately 6.5 revolutions per minute and was intended as a thrill ride for adults.
The carousel is unique because it combines two completely different styles of horses.
The large wild looking horses on the outer row of the machine are the "new and improved"
1916 Allan Herschell style.
The two inner rows of horses are an older style dating
from the late 1890's. A number of the wooden horses are currently undergoing restoration
at the Museum.
Within the next two years we hope to restore the entire carousel to an
original factory color scheme. A Wurlitzer military band organ, circa 1910, plays the
lilting sounds associated with a carousel ride.
Located in the Children's Gallery is a small 1940's aluminum carousel. Called a
"Kiddie Carousel" in the Allan Herschell Company catalog, it was created specifically
for small children to ride without the need for adults to accompany them. The horses
are child-size and the machine moves more slowly than a full sized carousel. The Kiddie
Carousel has been completely restored and while adults cannot ride on the machine, it is
a delight to the eyes.
Both carousels operate daily during the Museum's open hours. We take great care to
preserve them, as both are rare historical artifacts. Therefore, if maintenance is
necessary, one or both carousels may be shut down for a short period of time. Paid
admission to the Museum includes one free ride on either carousel. Additional ride
tokens may be purchased for 50˘. Small children under 43 inches in height may ride
on the large 1916 carousel if they are accompanied by an adult. The Kiddie Carousel
is restricted to children under 43 inches in height.
The Lockman Collection: The Lockman Collection,
purchased by the museum
in 1995, is on exhibit in the museum. These
animals document the changes in style of carousel animals over a period of sixty years
in the different factories with which Allan Herschell was associated. The earliest
animals are small and fairly plain. Later animals have a more realistic look and have
been carved with more detail.
The collection includes animals from the four eras of carousel companies in North
Tonawanda: the Armitage-Herschell Company, Herschell-Spillman Company,
Spillman Engineering Company, and Allan Herschell Company.
elaborate scroll work and painted details on their bridles and saddles. This collection
also includes several unusual and popular menagerie animals,
such as a carousel dog, a wild boar, a rooster, and an ostrich.
The Armitage-Herschell Company (1872-1906), was as well known for its custom made
boilers and machinery parts as it was for its Steam Riding Galleries (early merry go
rounds). The Herschell-Spillman Company (1906-1926), made safety and design improvements
to carousels. Herschell's third company, the Allan Herschell Company (1916-1969),
introduced the concept of aluminum horses and "Kiddieland" rides. The Allan Herschell
Company factory complex is the only remaining North Tonawanda facility which produced
hand carved carousels. It houses the present day Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.
The Herschell companies collectively were the most prolific producers of carousels in
the country, manufacturing machines which were known for quality in workmanship and
reliability. Their horses, while not as elaborate as some of their competitors, have
a charm and grace which is unique to Herschell animals. They are prime examples of the
"county fair" style of carousel horse.
Wurlitzer Music Roll Shop: This
collection of original machinery
from the early 1900's Wurlitzer Company factory demonstrates the production of paper
music rolls. Band organs need these rolls to play the magical sounds which have always
been a part of the carousel experience.
The exhibit includes over 1600 hand-punched original master rolls dating back to
the turn of the century from the Wurlitzer Company and later TRT Manufacturing.
This is the only public display of equipment of this type in the country! Music rolls
produced by a volunteer crew are available for purchase in the gift shop.
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