SALISBURY — Although it may not be the one people remember, an early 20th century Flying Horses Carousel is on its way to Salisbury Beach.
For many years, SPS New England Chairman and CEO Wayne Capolupo has been spearheading an effort by the Salisbury Beach Partnership to bring the historic 1890s Broadway Flying Horses Carousel back to the beach center.
Although it was unable to get its hands on the original carousel, the Salisbury Beach Partnership is expected to announce tonight at the Sea Festival of Trees’ Spirits of Christmas Gala and Grand Tree Lighting that it has found and purchased a 1909 carousel for $600,000.
“We were given the opportunity to secure a carousel that is very historic and has a great pedigree,” Capolupo said. “It’s about 110 years old and was owned by the same family for the entire 110 years.”
The three-row Broadway Flying Horses Carousel began entertaining Salisbury Beach visitors in 1914, but was eventually sold in 1977 and ended up in the hands of a Los Angeles-based collector who intended to restore it. But the man died about five years ago, leaving his collection of carousels in disarray.
“He did not have good record keeping or have an heir apparent and basically took all of the details of all of these carousels to the grave with him,” Capolupo said. “Since then, nobody has been able to reconstruct what was the true Salisbury Broadway Flying Horses.”
Although members of the Salisbury Beach Partnership were disappointed to hear the Broadway Flying Horses had been lost to history, they kept looking for another carousel and found one in Harvey’s Lake, Pennsylvania.
Capolupo said the steam-powered carousel was converted to electricity in the 1930s and still features its original machinery.
The carousel was owned by the Winterstein family, which recently sold it to the Salisbury Beach Partnership for $600,000.
“The Salisbury Beach Partnership now owns the carousel, which is currently here in Salisbury,” Capolupo said. “We are in the process of finding a building in which we can go and start the assembly process to get this back up and running after a nine-year hiatus.”
Capolupo said the carousel has been with the Winterstein family since it was built.
“The motor is still the original electric motor and has all of the remaining components,” Capolupo said. “This is what we think is a bargain but, when you are buying something that has not run for nine years, there is always a certain element of risk associated with it.
“You never know for certain whether it’s going to be broken or rotted or just no longer working,” he added. “We are hopeful and confident that we will be able to get it put back together with a tremendous amount of volunteer labor and sweat equity. We hope to get this thing back up and running for a very cost-effective amount of money.”
Capolupo said the carousel had been used in Harvey’s Lake and other U.S. locations over the past century.
“Most recently, it was in Florida,” he said. The Wintersteins “took it out of there approximately nine years ago and brought it back home to Pennsylvania. They spent about nine years looking for an individual or an entity that would buy it that they were comfortable and confident would not break it up for its components. Because that is what happens to a lot of these old carousels. They get broken up for the carvings, which are worth a fortune to certain collectors.”
Capolupo also said he hopes the new Salisbury Beach carousel can be part of a planned revitalization of the beach center, which would include a new welcome center and a historic area.
“We are continuing to work hand in hand with the town to finalize the location and construction of the Salisbury Beach Pavilion which will house the carousel,” Capolupo said. “I firmly believe that, without this piece, there will be nothing else that will be able to stimulate the revitalization of the Broadway Mall. This will decide the fate of the beach for the next 20 years.”
The Sea Festival of Trees’ Spirits of Christmas Gala and Grand Tree Lighting will be held at the Blue Ocean Music Hall beginning at 6:30 tonight. Tickets for the gala are $25.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.