Friends of the Paragon
By a Friend
Nantasket Beach in Hull, MA is home to the Paragon Carousel. It was built in 1928 for the legendary Paragon Park and was number 85 of 88 carousels produced by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, once the premier manufacturer of carousels and coasters in the United States. The carousel boasts 66 horses carved in the “Philadelphia Style,” a style known for its elegant, realistic horses. Two rare Roman-style chariots are led by beautiful horses decked with flowers. In addition to its horses and chariots, the Paragon Carousel contains 35 original oil paintings depicting highlights of the era, a canopy painted with clouds and butterflies, scalloped rounding boards, and numerous cherubs and goddess faces.
The restoration of PTC #85 is an ongoing project. The carousel, in order to stay at Nantasket Beach, has to stay running to earn its keep. The former owners (Carousel Under the Clock) invited James Hardison, knowing of his master skills in painting, gilding and woodworking, to start the restoration. Having restored art objects, religious statuary, and furniture in the past, James thought of this as a great project for his talent. James now restores and manages the carousel operations for the current owners, The Friends of the Paragon Carousel. A non-profit organization dedicated to keeping the carousel spinning on Nantasket Beach.
The motor house surround has been fully restored back to its original color scheme. During the stripping process all the original motifs that had been painted out for decades were revealed. When Hardison removed the old countertop material near the control station, faux marbleizing was revealed. All of these areas including the four columns have been recreated using the marbleizing technique.
The horses on PTC #85 are being lovingly restored back to their original color schemes as well. These were found during the stripping process. Using a heat gun, layer after layer of “park paint” was removed. Careful analysis of the first layers of paint gives a strong idea of the original color palette. The horses were naturally colored in such schemes as dapple grays and chestnut bays. The saddle trappings were colorfully painted and gilded.
After the basswood horses are stripped, the woodwork is inspected and repairs are made. Several coats of primer are then applied and meticulously sanded to make them ready for the finish coats.
The painting techniques Hardison uses are similar to those used in 1928. “Artists” Japan colors along with various formulas of glazing mediums, hand-done with brushes (no airbrushes). Finally, several coats of varnish are applied to give them a deep rich finish.
If future generations are to continue enjoying this carousel, Friends of the Paragon Carousel need all the support they can get in order continue the restoration and maintenance. To contact the Friends of the Paragon Carousel, please call 781-925-0472 or visit them online at www.enjoy-hull.com.
Article courtesy of James Hardison, restorer and manager of the Paragon Carousel.