Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel

Take a ride on Please Touch Museum®’s fully refurbished century-old carousel!

This iconic carousel, originally located in Philadelphia’s Woodside Park, was crafted in 1908 by the Dentzel Carousel Company, and after more than 40 years in storage, returns to its hometown bringing joy to new generations in its own 9,000 square-foot glass pavilion on the east side of Memorial Hall.

Carousel tickets may be purchased at the admissions desk for $3 or at the kiosk inside the carousel pavilion. Come take a spin!

History

Originally operating at Woodside Park—a favorite West Philadelphia amusement park located less than 10 blocks from Memorial Hall—the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel was built by the Dentzel Carousel Company North of Philadelphia. The carousel went through major updates in 1924, featuring the design it still has today.

The carousel was built “Philadelphia-style,” which means the animals are sculpted in vibrant, lifelike detail. The animals in the outer ring are stationary, while those on the inside rings rise and fall in a slow gallop. There are 52 hand-carved wooden animals in the menagerie, including 40 horses, four cats, two pigs, two goats and four rabbits. Dentzel’s head carver, Salvatore Cernigliaro, was famous for creating and hand-carving the rare “flirting rabbit,” where one paw is lifted up as if the rabbit is waving hello. The “flirting rabbit” on the original Dentzel Carousel is one of only three known to exist in the world. At Please Touch, a replica of the “flirting rabbit” is part of the animal menagerie. The standers, or outside row horses were originally designed and carved by Daniel Muller—considered to be one of the foremost carvers of his time. One of the most intriguing and unique features are the 1,296 lights that illuminate the carousel.

The Dentzel Company was founded in 1870 by Gustav Dentzel, a well-known German master carver who immigrated to the United States and began his business in 1867 in Philadelphia and Atlantic City. After Gustav’s death, his son William took over the company in 1909 until it closed at his death in 1928. The company was then sold to its Philadelphia competitor, the Philadelphia Toboggan Company—still in existence today, producing primarily roller coasters.

The Dentzel Carousel that would find a home at Woodside Park was a favorite of William Dentzel and was used as a sales model. The Dentzels would take potential customers to Woodside Park to view this gem of a carousel, and would very often receive an order for a new one based on its construction and design. William Dentzel, so proud of this carousel, had his initials carved on the lead horse.

After Woodside Park closed in 1955, the carousel was saved from oblivion by Frederick Fried, a carousel enthusiast, who put it in storage for several years until he briefly loaned it to the Music Circus in Lambertville, New Jersey. In 1965, the Smithsonian Institution purchased the carousel from Fried, with intent to refurbish and install it for use on the National Mall, near the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C. The plan never came to fruition and for almost 40 years, the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel remained in storage. A few of the characters were removed and placed on display at the National Museum of American History. In 2002, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission took ownership with plans to install the Dentzel Carousel outside the State Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

In 2005, Please Touch Museum acquired the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel on a long-term loan from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). The carousel returned to Philadelphia in August 2008, in preparation for the October grand opening of Please Touch Museum at Memorial Hall. In 2011, PHMC officially gifted the carousel to PTM and it is now one of our “icons of Philadelphia childhood!” Today, the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel welcomes hundreds of children and their accompanying grown-ups every day.

Find out how you can help support our Historic Dentzel Carousel

Share your Memories

To share your memories or photos of Woodside Park with us, please contact (215) 581-3181.

Support for the Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel provided by:

The Annenberg Foundation

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Hours of Operation

Monday - Saturday: 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday: 11 am to 5 pm
Christmas Eve: 11 am to 3 pm
New Year's Eve: 9 am to 3 pm
Thanksgiving & Christmas Day: CLOSED

Contact Information

Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park
4231 Avenue of the Republic
(formerly North Concourse Drive)
Philadelphia, PA 19131
Click here for directions.

Phone: 215-581-3181
Email: info@pleasetouchmuseum.org

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