Pullen Park – Part 1


Adjacent to NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, lies a 66-acre gem called Pullen Park. Established in 1887 by Richard Stanhope Pullen, it was the first public park in North Carolina. Today, Pullen Park is the 14th oldest amusement park in the world.[1]

Recently, my older sister and I took our young nephew to Pullen Park, which today offers such attractions as paddle boats, train rides, and a locally-sourced canteen. Being the fanciful creature that I am, my favorite attraction was the circa 1900 wooden carousel nestled neatly inside an octagonal building topped with a quirky weathervane.


The weathervane on the Pullen Park Carousel building.

The carousel was made for the Dentzel Carousel Company in Germantown, PA, by master carver Salvatore Cernigliaro and his apprentices. It is one of 23 remaining historic Dentzel carousels and one of 14 Dentzel menageries still operating in Northern America. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.[2]

The carousel is a three-abreast, stationary and galloping menagerie machine consisting of 52 animals and two chariots. As for the music? It’s a Wurlitzer 125 Military Band Organ dating back to between 1900 and 1924.  A major restoration of the carousel took place from 1977 – 1982. This was the first restoration of a carousel that involved the removal of layers of paint to expose the original colors and designs, which were then reproduced as closely as possible.[3]

We arrived at the park before the big rush, so I was able to take pictures in the carousel house while it was still empty. Despite a morning of best efforts, I could not entice my nephew onto the magical, moving menagerie.  By the time I decided to go it alone, throngs of excited children were wrapped around the inside of the building and my carousel dreams were set aside for another day.  In the meantime, these pictures serve as a reminder of another place and time … right here, right now in the City of Oaks.


Pullen Park Carousel: Of the 52 animals on the historic menagerie, 16 of them are stationary and 36 move up and down.


The inside rim of the Pullen Park Carousel is comprised of 18 gilded mirrors and 18 canvas panels.


The Pullen Park Carousel’s Wurlitzer 125 Military Band Organ, (circa 1900-1924)


The outside rim of the Pullen Park Carousel contains 18 large panels of alternating animal portraits and landscape scenes.


One of the landscape scenes on the outside rim of the Pullen Park Carousel.


My favorite animal on the Pullen Park Carousel was this colorful and graceful giraffe.

There are many thing to see and do at Pullen Park! Not entirely convinced? Look for my upcoming post, Pullen Park — Part 2.

[1] Census of the National Amusement Park Historical Association
[2] National Carousel Association Census
[3] http://www.raleighnc.gov/arts/content/PRecRecreation/Articles/PullenParkHistory.html

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