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Brooklyn Artist Wants To Put Restored Carousel In DUMBO Park

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An historic carousel is up and running in Brooklyn, but for now it can't take people for a ride because of its location. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following story.

What would make a waterfront site in DUMBO even more spectacular? A carousel, according to Brooklyn artist Jane Walentas. She bought the historic ride back in 1984 and has been restoring it ever since.

"I scraped down to all the original paint,” says Walentas. “It was like an archeological dig. I uncovered all of these wonderful designs."

Walentas researched and documented each piece of the carousel before refurbishing it to its original colors. She added some of her own touches, too, using palladium silver and 23-karat gold to brighten up the finishes.

The carousel was built in 1922 and is the first carousel listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Walentas bought it at auction in Ohio with the intention of making it a centerpiece in the waterfront park. At the time, her husband David Walentas was the park's designated developer.

More than 20 years later, the park, now known as Brooklyn Bridge Park, is far from being completed. But Walentas says after her restoration, she wanted the carousel assembled, regardless of the park's status.

It’s now operating here in a former spice factory in DUMBO.

"It was sitting in that studio for so long. I was used to seeing it in pieces and I assumed it would work,” says Walentas. “I was more concerned about the aesthetic. How it would look when it's put back together. And I was dazzled. It was really exciting."

Now that it's working, Walentas will soon open it up to visitors for viewing on weekends starting next month. It can't take riders because of the tight space in the building. But she hopes one day it can move to the park for all to use.

“At this point, I don't know a soul who doesn't want it to go in the park,” says Walentas. “I have a book that people come in and sign. And they all go, 'Wow why wouldn't this go in the park?'”

Park planners say they're still in discussions about the inclusion of the carousel.

Meanwhile, Walentas says she's already talking to architects about the design for the building where it'll be housed. She says she envisions a bright, glassy pavilion so the carousel can be seen even from across the river.

— Jeanine Ramirez
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