Jantzen Beach Carousel History

The Jantzen Beach Carousel is a century old,
and it wasn’t always a Portland carousel!

The Jantzen Beach Carousel (also known as the C.W. Parker Four Row Park Carousel) was built by the C.W. Parker Company in 1921 in Leavenworth, Kansas. The Jantzen Beach Carousel is the largest and most extravagant of Parker’s park-model carousels. Designed to be permanently installed at a single location, it was the second of only five park machines ever built.

Charles Wallace (C.W.) Parker started his carousel business in 1892 in Abilene, Kansas and moved his factory to nearby Leavenworth in 1911. By 1930, the factory was producing many other carnival attractions including shooting ranges and all-aluminum traveling carousels.

Image above of the Venice Beach location, used with permission.

The carousel was commissioned by the J.A. Ellis Company to draw tourists to the pier in Venice Beach, California, replacing a carousel which had been lost to fire. It was repossessed in 1924 due to lack of payment. The downturn in business was likely due to the city of Venice incorporating into the city of Los Angeles, and the carousel was newly governed by laws that restricted gambling, drinking and dancing on the Sabbath!

It sat in storage in Long Beach, California until 1927, when it was leased by the Hayden Island Corporation and shipped to Portland, Oregon.

Pinto Red Parker Pony Jumper S, Dappled Lavender Parker Pony (both above)
and Grey Tibetan Water River XL, left.

The general shape of the jumpers, samples shown above, is indicative of middle to later Parkers, with rounder bellies or an elongated jumper that appeared to be flying down the track, which Parker began carving after 1912. However, the JBC carousel features some boxier horse designs, shown left, indicating that its horses are a mix of older and newer models.

C.W. Parker traveled to Oregon to personally oversee the carousel’s installation at Jantzen Beach Amusement Park, which opened in the spring of 1928. In 1935, Hayden Island Corporation ended their lease agreement with the C.W. Parker Company and became the carousel’s permanent owners with a payment of $28,000.

Jantzen Beach Amusement Park operated continuously from 1928 until it was demolished in 1970.  In 1971, the park was replaced with the Jantzen Beach Super Center mall, which became the carousel’s new home, shown top image.

In 1987, the carousel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, however, sadly, it was delisted in 2008. 

After a restoration effort in 1995 by a Canadian firm to repaint the carousel, the carousel was moved to a new pavilion adjacent to the mall’s food court. There it operated until April of 2012, when it was ridden for the last time. When the mall’s South Carolina-based owners, Edens Inc., dismantled the carousel, they promised to restore and reopen it following renovation work at the mall. Instead, they demolished the carousel pavilion, leading locals to question, “Where is our beloved Jantzen Beach Carousel?”

Above, White Peekaboo Lillie Belle L and
the Portland Horse, a Black Peekaboo with Corn Grapes.

Article written by MPF Conservation with information found on the internet and from locals.