Built during the golden age of the carousel in the early twentieth century, the Carousel at Glen Echo Park is one of only sixteen of the approximately 200 carousels manufactured by the Dentzel Carousel Company that is still operating on its original site. The Carousel sits within a Shingle Style pavilion with a dual-pitched, bell-shaped roof with clerestory. It contains carved wooden animals arranged in three concentric circles, including thirty-eight horses, four ostriches, four rabbits, a deer, tiger, giraffe, lion, and two chariots. As is characteristic of carousel animals, they were ornately carved and brightly painted. Those at Glen Echo were made by Daniel C. Muller, one of the nation’s most skilled carousel figure carvers. Believed to be the first of the elaborately carved “jester head” models (located on the carousel canopy), the carousel is notable for its “jumpers” or moving horses depicted with all four feet in the air, located in the middle and inner rows. In addition, the Carousel includes a Wurlitzer 165 Military Band Organ, one of the few publically operating organs and the only one still accompanying a carousel.
The Dentzel Carousel Company was among the first to bring the tradition and the manufacture of carousels to this country. The company began in southern Germany as a winter occupation for wagon maker Michael Dentzel. In the 1850s he sent his sons, Gustav and William, with a full-sized carousel to America, where they established a cabinet and carousel making company in Philadelphia. The business flourished and soon they were building carousels for locations nationwide.
The Carousel is the only functioning ride in Glen Echo Park, and remains one of the park’s most beloved attractions. It is open seasonally for rides.
“Dentzel Carousel and Building,” Montgomery County, Maryland. Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1994. From Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (HABS No. MD-1080-A).
Scott, Gary, and Nicholas Veloz. “Carrousel at Glen Echo Park,” Montgomery County, Maryland. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1980. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.