Albany, Oregon, was suffering the way many small towns did at the end of the 20th century. Downtown shops were closing, losing business to shopping centers and interstate exits. There have been many types of revitalization projects across the country, some more successful than others. Albany’s is a carousel that is both a historical restoration and a local art project. It all began when Wendy Kirbey took a vacation and rode a carousel in Missoula, Montana, in 2002. Why not have one in Albany? She brought her idea to the townspeople, secured a grant, and recruited some local experts.
A local attorney kept the financing afloat until the grant came in. Woodcarver Jack Giles took responsibility for making the horses. He taught volunteers to carve wood into carousel animals of all kinds. Kirbey got a donation of a 1909 carousel mechanism, and retired engineer Carl Baker supervised volunteers who refurbished every wooden gear cog. As the project grew, the carousel had to be moved five times, but finally has a permanent home downtown. Twenty years later, the carousel is open and busy. So many community members had a hand in building the carousel that they can’t help but be proud of their work, as well as the new hobbies they found and the friendships they forged. Read the story of how they all came together around a carousel at Atlas Obscura.
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