NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB)- A century ago, North Tonawanda was a national hub for carousel-making.
“More carousels were made in North Tonawanda than all of the other companies combined,” said Rae Proefrock of the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda.
Around 3,000 carousels were made at the Alan Herschell Company in North Tonawanda, mostly by German immigrants.
A handful of them were park-style menagerie carousels; only nine are still in use today.
One more was found in Ohio, by Laurie Hauer-Laduca of Buffalo Hertiage Carousel, Inc.
She tracked the rare antique to the DeAngelis family, who bought it back in the early 1920s.
Hauer-Laduca’s goal? To bring the carousel home to Western New York.
“When we approached them, it was sort of a win-win. Win for us, to find this rare carousel for Buffalo, New York. Hopefully be number ten of the nation’s park carousels, of Herschell-Spillman, or Spillman Engineering carousels, but also for them,” Hauer-Laduca told News 4.
The DeAngelis family wants to see the carousel enjoyed by the public.
They also want to make sure the DeAngelis grandchildren can ride for free; Hauer-Laduca said that’s no problem.
But there’s another catch.
The DeAngelis carousel needs to go in a building at Canalside; It’s part as part of the terms given to Buffalo Heritage Carousel by the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, which is offering up $250,000 to help them buy it.
The Erie Harbor Canal Development Corporation is on board with the idea.
“This sounds like a fantastic carousel that needs to be in Buffalo, and we’d like to see it at Canalside,” said Sam Hoyt, a board member for EHCDC.
Hoyt told News 4 now it’s just a matter of figuring out where at Canalside the carousel should go.
The EHCDC Board will need to give the green light before July 1st, so that Buffalo Heritage Carousel Inc. can put down a deposit on the carousel.
If it comes to Canalside, it will be solar-powered and cost just a dollar to ride.
It would also operate year-round, which Hoyt said would be another way to attract people to Canalside in the winter.
Hauer-Laduca said she’d like to see the carousel placed near the Explore & More Children’s Museum, which is also expected to be located at Canalside.
For Proefrock, it’s a chance to see one of Herschell-Spillman’s most prized pieces, close to home.
If and when the carousel comes to Canalside, it’s expected to be ready to ride in 2017.