Dentzel Carousel - Visit Meridian

Dentzel Carousel

Dentzel Carousel

Here's when to take it for a spin

Operating hours for the Dentzel Carousel vary seasonally:

  • June–July: daily, 1–5 p.m.
  • April–May, August–October: Saturday–Sunday, 1–5 p.m.
  • November–March: Saturday, 1–5 p.m.

Groups sometimes rent the carousel for private parties. You can call 601.485.1802 to confirm that it’s open to the public. The carousel is at 1802 Carousel Drive in Highland Park. Adults must accompany riders who are 3 years old or younger. Rides cost $1; tours of the carousel and shelter cost $2.


Rides on the Dentzel Carousel Often Cause Outbreaks of Smiles and Laughter

Children giggle. Adults smile dreamily, their unfocused eyes gazing back in time to their own childhoods. Even too-cool-for-kid-stuff teens can’t stop grinning. That’s the magic conjured up by a simple spin on a Meridian civic treasure: the Dentzel Carousel.

In today’s world of smaller, sleeker, slicker gadgets, part of the carousel’s appeal lies in its brawny industrial-era mechanicalness. An electric motor cranks a whirring flywheel via a canvas belt. Long levers start and stop the machinery. Sturdy bolts secure heavy wooden beams. Spindly [INVALID]l suspension rods radiating from a center post hold the whole thing together. Gears mesh. Planks creak.

From such simplicity comes a more thrilling ride than you might expect, even though the horses (and other animals) keep their hooves (or paws) on the platform rather than bobbing up and down. The carousel spins surprisingly fast — to the delight of even small children.

Riders can choose among 20 horses, two deer, two antelope, two giraffes, a lion, a tiger, and two double-seat chariots. Craftsmen at the Dentzel Carousel Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hand carved each wooden animal and chariot all the way back in 1896. The carousel eventually debuted at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The City of Meridian then bought it in 1909 for $2,000. Today, it would be worth more than a million dollars. (It’s not for sale.)

Also in 1909, the city built a carousel house from Dentzel blueprints to house its new showpiece. The square exterior looks deceptively plain. Inside you’ll find lots of retro charm, particularly from the octagonal clerestory’s soaring wooden rafters and band of windows.

The building is the only one of its kind left standing, and the carousel itself is the only two-row stationary Dentzel carousel known to survive. After all these years, it retains its original horses and chariots and even most of its original “scenery” oil paintings, as well as a painted advertisement that reads: “G. A. Dentzel builder of the latest improved carrousel 3635-41 Germantown Ave. Philadelphia Pa.” (“Carrousel” is the original French spelling.)

The carousel and its house are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are also official Mississippi and national landmarks.

An art project called Around Town Carousels Abound celebrates the ride. Fiberglass carousel horses, each imaginatively painted by a commissioned artist, pose at more than 60 locations across the city. It’s a colorful reminder of how Meridian and its carousel are galloping together through the 21st century, greeting the future with happy smiles.