The carousel was manufactured in 1896 by Gustav Dentzel of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition and later sold to the City of Meridian. A cabinet maker by trade, Dentzel was a young German immigrant to the United States. In 1860, he established the Dentzel Factory. His family had manufactured carousels in Germany and offered great support to Gustav's American venture. The Dentzel Factory manufactured two or three carousels per year and supplied parks throughout the East and South. All of the animals were hand-carved out of poplar or basswood. The carousels often had original oil paintings as well. The arrival of the Great Depression spelled the end to the factory in 1929. The Dentzel Carousel arrived in Meridian in 1909 and has occupied its same location in Highland Park. Its house is the only remaining original carousel building built from a Dentzel blueprint.
In 1977, Meridian's Dentzel Carousel and Carousel House along with Highland Park were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In October 1986, the Department of the Interior designated the Highland Park Dentzel Carousel and Carousel House as National Landmarks. This honor was given to 11 carousels nationwide, with Meridian's being the only one located in the South.
Restoring the beauty of the past...
During the early 1980s, the carousel building was closed for two years for major restoration. The carousel animals were removed and placed in various local institutions while funds were raised for restoration. Funds have come via private donations from "Friends of the Carousel," grants, fund-raisers and city budgeted money.
From 1984 through 1995, the animals, chariots and canvas oil paintings were meticulously restored to their original beauty. The animals were found to have their original paint under 6 to 10 repaintings. Colors and designs were documented with careful color matching, tracing of designs, working drawings and photographs showing where colors and designs occurred. The entire restoration was done by Rosa Ragan of Raleigh, N.C., one of the foremost restoration specialists in the U.S.
The city purchased the carousel in 1909 for a mere $2,000, but today the carousel is valued at more than a million dollars. Restoration of the carousel animals totaled more than $112,000, while restoration of the Carousel House was nearly twice that amount. The City of Meridian views the Dentzel Carousel as a unique community and country treasure. Restoration continues as needed on a yearly basis to ensure that the carousel will remain not only a source of enjoyment but as a part of our nation's history.
Hours and Admission
November - March 1:00-5:00
Saturday & Sunday
August - October 1:00-5:00
April - May 1:00-5:00
June - July 1:00-5:00
Rides: $.50 per ride
Tours: $1 per person
(Children 3 and under must be accompanied by an adult standing beside them while riding the carousel.)
Birthday Parties - To book a party, schedule a tour, or for more information, stop by the Parks & Recreation office at Highland Park or contact 601-485-1904.
From I-20/59, take 22nd Avenue exit; turn left on 8th Street; follow signs to the Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Highland Park. Or take Exit 150, turn right on 8th Street; follow signs to Highland Park.
For information call 601-485-1904 or 601-485-1802.
The carousel is owned, administered and operated by the City of Meridian's Parks & Recreation Department
P.O. Box 1430
Meridian, MS 39302