The Crescent Park carousel is the largest, most elaborate, and probably best preserved of the surviving works of Charles I. D. Looff. 

Looff's showroom carousel while he was headquartered in East Providence (1905-1910)


April of 1895 - Charles Looff signed a lease with the owner of Crescent Park, George Boyden, for the construction and operation of a carousel. 

July 1898 - First photograph of the carousel appeared in the Providence Journal of Commerce.

April 21, 1976 - Added to National Register of Historic Places

May 28,1985 - The Rhode Island Assembly proclaimed the carousel as "The State Jewel of American Folk Art"

February 27, 1987 - Designated a National Historic Landmark

Design & FiguresEdit

  • 4 Abreast
  • 50' diameter circular wooden platform
  • 66 Figures
    • Estimated that most date between 1905, when Looff arrived at Crescent Park, and 1910, when he left for Long Beach, California.
    • No two figures are exactly alike, which is a very unusual characteristic.
      • 56 Jumping horses in 14 sets of 4
      • 2  stationary double chariots emblazoned with dragons (originally intended to rock)
      • 2 stationary single chariots feature finely carved intertwined serpents (work of eldest son Charles)
        •  There are no other known chariots similar to the style, quality, or carving of these examples by the younger Looff on any other carousel.
      • 6 Stationary figures flank the chariots
        • All much older than the jumping horses
          • 5 Horses
          • 1 Camel
        • The camel and the lone grey horse (beside the pink gondola), represent some of Looff's earliest work.
          • Both date from 1880
          • They feature brass tassels and round brass rosettes with mirrored centers
            • This shows this country's first application of "jewelling"
    • At least every other row abreast is all white - this is a typical Looff pattern
    • The Trappings on the figures are in the style of Looff's mature, or third and final period
      • closely match descriptions and illustrations of an 1894 Austrian Imperial Court "carrouselle"
  • To Looff, the relationship between a carousel's ornamental framework and its figures was the same as that between a painting and its frame.
    • His frameworks were traditionally all white, accented only by a generous use of gold trip, often gold leaf.
  • The rims and inner decorations of the Crescent Park carousel feature a mix of both paintings and mirrors
    • The last, and only existing, of the Looff carousels which carried  both the older and newer Looff trademarks in rim decorations
      • Early Looff carousels comprised only of paintings and scenic panels
      • Later, mirrors were introduced
      • Eventually, Looff carousels featured all-mirror rims
  • Atop the center post is a large wooden eagle, approximately 4' in wingspread, covered with gold leaf


  • Both carousel and band organ were originally powered by steam coming from the Park's central plant
  • Steam engin has since been replaced by an electric motor housed in the pavillion
    • 3-Phase electric motor
    • 15-horsepower
    • 550-volt


  • Artificial lighting originally came from a gas powered chandelier that hung over the centerpole
    • The fittings still remain intact
  • Approx. 1920's - gas lights were replaced by 25-watt electric bulbs attached to the posts, carousel sweeps, and center facade


  • 14-sided wood frame structure
  • The roof is supported by two rows of vertical posts and suspended in the center by steel tension rods
  • The frame consists of 4 sliding and 4 stationary window panels on each bay, with vertical siding below
  • 4 bays, and originally several more, carry 2 sets of double-folding doors that give access to the interior
  • There are 3-panel stationary transom windows with border panes of colored glass above each bay.
    • This pattern is repeated at the clerestory
    • The multi-colored panes project rays of olored light onto the moving, mirrored surfaces of the carousel's framework and figures
  • Primitive air conditioning system
    • Combination of:
      • Vents at the tip of the conical roof
      • Many upper-level windows
      • Ground-level doors
      • The spinning motion of the carousel itself
  • Originally, the roof rose to a peak; sometime before 1909, Looff added the cupola and onion dome