North Tonawanda’s Enchanting Carousel Kingdom
By Stephen Cravak
Nestled amongst tree-lined avenues of a Buffalo suburb, resides a hidden gem. A testament to human passion and preservation stands a relic of America’s industrial past and its continued pursuit of amusement. When on Thompson Street in the heart of North Tonawanda, your eyes need to be peeled for a red brick complex built in 1915. Inside its crimson walls organs serenade and horses run wild. You will enter not a re-creation, but a true representation of the past. Welcome to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.
The museum has been treating visitors to a merry-go-round of insight into the area’s rich contributions to antique carousels and children’s ride production. The building served as the primary facility for the Allan Herschell Company.
According to Carousel historian and collector Charlotte Dinger, Allan Herschell was born in Scotland in 1851 later emigrating to Buffalo, New York. After seeing a carousel in New York City, he was determined to begin building steam-operated merry-go-rounds. His first company the Armitage Herschell Company was unable to survive two fires and economic downturn. Herschell’s passion for carousels led him to continue on by joining forces with his brother-in-law to form the Herschell-Spillman Company. It’s not surprising that it was a mere 2 years after Herschell’s retirement that he jumped back into the carousel business. Founding the Allan Herschell Company, the fourth carousel producer in North Tonawanda, Herschell competed against the Spillman Engineering Company, who conveniently removed his name. Continue reading