Decorative Elements for the Jantzen Beach Carousel

MPF Conservation assessed (and treated horses) for the Jantzen Beach Carousel  in Portland Oregon; this page shows an overview of the other Decorative Elements (not horses) MPFC assessed which are part of the construction of the entire carousel, shown right.

Chariots / Benches

Above, a large double chariot with heart-shaped inner end upholstery.

The benches, which are also called chariots, were assessed to determine how to best restore the decorative carved elements and reinstate sitting comfort.

Currently, the benches have had their historic seat and inside back vegetable and hair and fiber pods removed and replaced with poly-foam. Historically they would have been traditionally upholstered, which should make them comfortable but also, will make the build-up and showcover last. Poly-foam breaks down quickly and needs to be replaced more often than a fiber-filled innard, plus it sits uncomfortably after a very short time. If the chariots were upholstered in a historically accurate manner, they would need less re-upholsterings, thus saving money in the long run.

The benches are certainly a likely place for someone in a wheel chair to ride the carousel, and in that spirit, MPFC addressed handicapped accessibility in tandem with the bench restoration. While a young child in a wheelchair can be picked up and placed onto a horse with seat belts, a mother or father in a wheelchair needs to be able to sit close to their child.

Some parts of the bench seats have historical finish issues. Originally bench seat backs sported highly stylized murals. Now they have all been painted over. MPFC made determinations of possible motifs and colors for this effort.

Below, a single seat Lion bench, and to the right, the “Jantzen Beach Girl” sign, circa 1930, is taking the plunge on the Lion bench.

Parts of the Carousel Structure

From the top down, MPFC assessed two of each of the carousel’s structural items. These are listed below with commentary. Of course, much more information is in our extensive report.

Rounding Boards

The eighteen rounding boards sit between the cherub shields at the top of the carousel. The Rounding boards come in two designs, the more common one, above, and the one that identifies that this is a “C.W.Parker” carousel, below.

They were created using a 2×4 framing structure which was topped with 1×4 cedar wainscoting (milled for mass construction in the early 20th century and readily available). The board’s tongue & groove leading edges allow the board’s facade to pivot at each 1×4 member to create an outer convex curve. The wainscoting was covered in heavy cotton canvas, gessoed, and painted. The carved decorative elements were face-nailed to the facade after painting.

Below, Cherub Shield #6, front and back.

Cherub Shields

The eighteen cherub shields, called “overhead shields” in the 1995 appraisal, sit between the rounding boards, and assist the carousel to make the curved structure.

MPFC devoted a page to solving the issues of the Cherub Shields; to read about it, visit our page Cherub Shields for the Jantzen Beach Carousel.


The beams above left are shown upside down; when installed you see the gold caps when looking up. Right, Mitchell after a long day moving, and you can see the ends of the beams.

The beams are built of simple framing similar to bi-plane wings, and faced with thin tin. The end caps are wooden created from four parts, glued, carved then painted. When installed there are several parts that light up, adding to the carousel’s festive mood.

Cresting boards, above and right; bottom, details of the cresting boards.

Cresting Boards

The eighteen cresting boards are built in much the same way as the rounding boards, above, and sit directly below them as seen in the image of the Jantzen Beach Carousel at the beginning of this page.

Mirrors are a clever way to amplify light and excitement to the otherwise simple structures. Lighting lines the bottom of the beams. Simple 2×4 framing structure which was topped with 1×4 cedar wainscoting, glued canvas topping, painted and carved decorative items affixed to the canvas.

Shields, above modeled by our excellent helper-men, and the back; below right, the CW Parker
logo showing the lighting, additional parts that cover connections, and a detail of the finish.

Decorative Mirror Shields

Eighteen decorative shields line the inside of the carousel and cover the motorized housing, shown right, while also mirroring back the many riders on horseback. The construction is a traditional frame and panel design, which omitted complex joinery in favor of overlapping kerfs and butt joinery. Unlike other carousel construction the bottom frame panel is relief carved directly into the frame rather than applied after the fact.

Four lights sit in each floral design, one of which again shows the Parker trade shield, below. Details of the connection cover and the finish, below.

Double Decorative Gates

There are eight double decorative gates which line the interior mechanical area, allowing access for operators but not the public into the serviceable interior engine and mechanics. Behind sits the greasy operating system. The 1995 appraisal referred to these as “Lower Housing Panels.”

Simple 2×4 framing structure which was topped with 1×4 cedar wainscoting, glued canvas topping, painted and covered with decorative carved Greek figurines.

They are large, 90×58-inches and approximately 3-4 inches deep. They were extremely heavy to bring into the studio and were assessed in storage.

Haystacks Panel, Mount Hood Panel, and the back of a panel, above.

Painted Shields

Eight panel shields are also part of the inner shield construction which line the interior mechanical area, allowing access for operators but not the public. Behind sites the greasy operating system. The longest side is 92-inches, and appear to be constructed like the Rounding boards.

They were painted originally in juvenile images in bright primary colors (like much of the carousel) but thankfully in the 1995 restoration, they brought in the idea of painting important places in Oregon: Heceta Lighthouse, Rabbit Ears, Mount Hood, Crater Lake, Multnomah Falls, Fort Vancouver, Vista House, and Haystack Rocks. The artist painted them on canvas which was affixed to the historic panels over the original art.

It would be interesting to lift them during restoration, and see the original panels which may sit underneath the plywood boards which hold the most recent art.