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Community wants Forest Park Carousel preserved

One year ago activists renewed their drive to get the carousel listed as a city landmark. That quest, however, has taken the back seat to putting the structure on the national list.

That could then lead to an infusion of funds that would restore and preserve the wooden sculptures that adorn the carousel.

"We will hopefully have the whole package go to the state review board by March 26," said Mary Ann Carey, district manager for Community Board 9. "We are pretty confident that we are going to get that."

The national register, administered by the federal National Park Service, would then have 45 days to consider whether to add the carousel to the national register.

Carey said people working to preserve the carousel also include Maria Thomson, executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation; Nancy Cataldi, president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society; and state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale). City administrators at Forest Park have also been trying to help secure the carousel's future.

A fire destroyed the original carousel on Dec. 11, 1966, which prompted the site's concessionaire, Restaurant Associates, to buy a carousel crafted by Daniel Carl Muller, an immigrant from Germany who came to Philadelphia in the 1880s and started carving wood figures for carousels, according to the Forest Park Web site.

Muller worked with the Dentzel Company on what is now known as the Forest Park Carousel, the frame of which was built in 1890 and for which Muller crafted the animals in 1903. The site was fully restored and operated until 1985, and then had another renovation in 1988. The carousel contains 49 horses, a lion, a tiger, a deer and two chariots arranged in three concentric circles.

A spokeswoman for Maltese said the senator would work with community groups and other elected officials to make sure the structure does not get moved or destroyed.

Carey said coordination among groups interested in preserving the carousel has been key to efforts to get the structure on the national register. She said supporters hope to find out by the end of the summer whether their proposal for the carousel will be approved.

Putting a site on the national register enables preservationists to seek grants and other public and private funds that could aid restoration efforts.

"With this whole cooperative spirit, it seems to be moving along," Carey said. "We feel that getting the carousel on the national register will be extremely important."

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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