What is The Berkshire Carousel?The Berkshire Carousel is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 venture designed to create an authentic classic wooden carousel that is both a work of art and a wonderful form of family fun and entertainment. It will be a permanent display of the creative endeavors of The Berkshire County residents involved in it’s creation. Volunteers come into the project and learn how to build, carve, and sand wooden carousel horses that are essentially beautiful sculptures. Hundreds of hours go into creating each and every horse. This will be the most ambitious and largest permanent artwork ever created in the Berkshires.The project involves volunteers from all over Berkshire County who are building, carving, sanding, and painting the carousel ponies and creating the artwork to be featured on the ride. Participation in the project is accessible to all Berkshire County residents, whether through carving, sanding, or painting horses, developing exhibitions, donating resources, helping to operate the Carousel or volunteering to assist with enterprises and our educational programs. The project was designed to engender community pride and participation, and to offer an opportunity for all local residents to participate and create a community legacy. We have had hundreds of people volunteer for the project from Berkshire County and some from surrounding states as well.After beginning in July 2005, the development of the Carousel commenced in 2008 and is currently projected to be completed in 2014. Construction of the Carousel has truly become a community effort. To create the wooden horses, a resident professional carver mentored volunteers as they carved the carousel horses. The beauty and craftsmanship rival those of historic carousels. The figures are modeled after those of the most famous carvers of the Golden Age of Carousels from 1880 to 1930. Three chariots are currently being constructed, and Berkshire residents have completed the artwork for all of the Berkshire scenes themed rounding boards. Concurrent with the carving of the horses, the Carousel staff and board have been raising the necessary funds through an ongoing capital campaign. Carousels and Carvings, Inc of Marion, Ohio has finished refurbishing the 1928 Herschell carousel frame and mechanism. Since carousel frames are so robust, it is a common practice to rehabilitate old mechanisms to serve as the backbone for new carousel projects. The North Bay carousel is built on a Herschell frame of the same design and vintage. The Herschell Company of North Tonawanda, NY was a major carousel producer in the late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s and there was a Berkshire historical connection as well. Herschell was the manufacturer of the first carousel in the Berkshires; a steam driven carousel located in Berkshire Park on Route 8 in the early 1900s and also the manufacturer of the carousel at Pontoosuc Lake in the 1950s and 1960s. (Also of note, the Herschell Company manufactured engines for the Berkshire Automobile and the Stilson Six, two autos built in the Berkshires in the early 1900s. ) The Berkshire Carousel’s machine will be 40 feet in diameter with 14 section, 33 horses, and three chariots (one handicapped accessible). We are also creating spare horses for the Carousel. The Carousel construction costs include the refurbishing of the frame, shipment to Berkshire County, and a two week set up with a four-person crew. This portion of the project is fully paid for. The restored carousel frame and mechanism were delivered to our current workshop in Dalton on Friday, February 7, 2014. Creation of the horses. Additional to this cost is that of the creation of the horses, chariots, and panels that make up the body of the Carousel. For approximately four years the Berkshire Carousel contracted with a professional carver who mentored and supervised local volunteers in carving horses. During this time Berkshire County artists have been volunteers, trained and supervised other volunteers in the painting of all horses and other carousel parts. Since 2012, all carving and artwork has been totally done by volunteers under the supervision of a team of managers, all of whom are volunteers. The Berkshires themed rounding board paintings have been designed through a calling of all interested artists to submit paintings of local Berkshire County scenes of the 1900’s era. TheNorman Rockwell Museum has also donated a copy of the famous Norman Rockwell painting of Main Street on Stockbridge, Mass.All of the peer carousels have developed a a unique approach (beyond rides, earned revenue, and contributed revenue) that fits the context of their community in order to be viable on a year-to-year basis and over time.Community support. The Berkshire Carousel has proven its ability to garner community support, evidenced in its corps of over 400 volunteers as well as commitment from a number of vendors and contractors who have and/or are willing to provide their services pro bono or at a greatly reduced cost. In addition, the Carousel workshop has been housed in donated spaces since its inception. Finally, the support for the feasibility research for this business plan was provided by a matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (MCFF), a public program supported by the state of Massachusetts. Based on this plan and project success to date, MCFF has also awarded the Berkshire Carousel a $250,000 matching grant in 2013 for capital construction of the building to house the carousel. To date the carousel organization has raised $1.2 million.Berkshire Carousel requires at least 10,000 square feet for the carousel, exhibits, workshop, restoration shop, event space, office, gift shop, and concessions. Site development at the factory will involve remodeling and expanding the space to provide an attractive exterior and the interior build out of space for these and other planned functions. A task force including architects (Barry Architect, Inc) and contractors (David J. Tierney, Jr., Inc. ) has been working with the project for over five years to develop plans and costs for both freestanding buildings and remodeling of existing spaces. This task force will be working to raise funds for the construction. Final plans and cost estimates will be developed and worked on by this committee. An estimated million dollar structure can be built to house the Carousel and enable the Carousel to begin operations. We are in the final stages and everyone is looking forward to seeing our Carousel up and running in it’s new building. When we are finished people will be amazed how it all started, that Jim Shulman took it upon himself to prove that if you want to make something, if you put your mind to it you can accomplish your dreams and goals. Jim started out by learning how to carve a carousel horse, and then he learned how to paint a carousel horse. If he could do it so could others. The horse Obie, has come to be known as the spirit and the symbol of our carousel since it is the premier horse to be completed.As always there are naysayers that said “This project was an impossible feat...” but alas the spirit of those who believe in it and do the work have triumphed. After hundreds of hours of carving, drawing, painting and sanding... we arein the final stages of finishing our carousel. Now it is happening and it is possible!So imagine a child waiting in line for a ride on a carousel, you just feel an overwhelming surge of anticipation and excitement! There are so many horses to choose from, which one will you choose? Then comes the moment when you get to choose which fearless stead to ride on your turn. You race other excited companions to climb onto the horse of your choice. Then the ride starts up and soon you fly through the air as you go up and down on the merry go round!It brings joy, magic, imagination and happiness into our lives. It brings us back in time to when things were simple.. this vision is coming our way so stay tuned for more progress and updates as we move forward to complete our carousel!The Berkshire carousel is the only carousel in the US that will have figures modeled directly from the classical ponies of the major carvers of all three styles. The primary changes in design from originals to make them unique is in the saddle and trappings or adornments around the saddle and bridle.
Our Director Maria CaccavielloOur Director Maria, who has worked in the arena of art and fund raising for over twenty five years, was recruited by Jim & Jackie in the early days of the project. Jim said to Maria “We are going to build a carousel together...”So after several years of hard work recruiting volunteers, recruiting sponsors, making horses, finding and moving the workshop from location to location, the project is nearing the final stages. She is in the midst of the capital fund raising campaign for the building. There is still plenty of work ahead to bring the carousel to life and Maria is up for the challenge. This project is a lifetime fulfillment of seeing how art can be a catalyst and make a community come together and create a legacy for all to benefit for years to come.
Our Co-FoundersJackie and Jim ShulmanFormer Berkshires resident, Jim Shulman and his wife Jackie, wanted to give a gift to the Berkshires, a recognized area for natural beauty, art, and history. The carousel conception began when Jim Shulman the project co-founder and his wife Jackie attended a commencement ceremony at Williams College in Williamstown, MassachusettsThe speaker at the ceremony that day was Christopher Reeve ( fondly remembered for his role as Superman ). He passionately spoke to his audience impressing upon the crowd that when you leave the college, remember to invest in your community. Do it for yourself but make sure what you do has an impact on others. Not only will you gain a new perspective on life, but you will form new relationships with people in your community.The words spoken that day by Christopher Reeve created a rippling effect, convincing Jim and Jackie to do something that would benefit their community. In years to come, after pondering what it could be? The Shulmans formed a non profit organization, and thenset out to secure financial backing for this project The Berkshire Carousel.Jim took his message back to the community where he grew up to the beautiful hills of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. They both inspired numerous generous people and sponsors to contribute to this huge undertaking along with attracting dedicated volunteer artists, carvers, and painters. In return, they all have united together with a mission to create this magnificent carousel that will be a gift to the people of the Berkshires and will become a center for education and recreation that will benefit the community for generations to come.
The Berkshire CarouselWe are on target to complete thirty nine horses, one donkey, a handicap accessible chariot, a rocking chariot, and a spinning tub. We have fourteen rounding boards which are finished and we are working on the fourteen inner panels. This project has been a huge undertaking which has included hundreds of different people