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Historic designation likely for Coney’s carousel, Feds say

A good turn! Historic designation likely for Coney’s carousel, Feds say

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They’re coming around.

The Feds will likely give Coney Island’s B&B Carousell the nation’s second-highest historical designation this month, according folks at the National Register of Historic Places. An application to list the century-old carousel on the register recently passed state-level review and moved on the Feds — whose approval is largely perfunctory, an insider said.

“The expectation is that is that the nominations that come to us are eligible — statistically, we accept most nominations that come to us through state offices,” National Register historian Alexis Abernathy said.

Gov. Cuomo announced support for the bid in September, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote a letter to the National Parks Service last week urging it to list the B&B, because of the merry-go-round’s link to Coney Island’s heyday as an amusement monolith.

“The B&B has been a staple of Brooklyn’s Coney Island and has played a significant role in shaping much of its distinctive amusement park culture,” Gillibrand wrote in the letter to agency honcho Jonathan Jarvis.

The 110-year-old, city-owned carousel would be eligible for federal preservation grants if officials list it in the register.

The B&B is the handiwork of an all-star cast of Coney Island carousel builders, painters, and horse-carvers whose work made Coney Island a Mecca for carousel-creation at the turn of the 20th century, according to carousel experts.

It includes a horse by M.C. Illions, who the New York Times called the “Michelangelo of carousel carvers,” and dozens more by noted carver Charles Carmel — their brightly colored and expressive horses define the “Coney Island Style,” one of the three major carousel art styles the National Carousel Association recognizes.

The carousel’s pedigree is undeniably important to national history, the association’s president said.

“[The B&B’s history] makes it a strong example of a carousel that tells the story of the carousel industry in Coney Island,” Bette Largent said. “It certainly contains enough history of the Golden Age of Carousels to be of true historic significan­ce.”

The masters first built the carousel for a park in New Jersey, but it moved to the People’s Playground after the Jersey park went belly-up. The city sent it to Ohio for restoration in 2005, and it made a glorious return in 2013.

The B&B Carousell (yes, it’s spelled with two Ls) would be the 169th site in Brooklyn and the sixth carousel in the state to go on the register. The designation would make it eligible to become a national landmark — the country’s highest historical designation, federal officials said.

The National Register has until the last week in February to rule on the designation.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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