George W. Johnson park carousel

Between 1919 and 1934, George F. Johnson (1857-1948), shoe manufacturer, founder and President of the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Manufacturing Co., and great benefactor, donated six beautiful carousels to local parks in Broome County. Mr. Johnson felt that carousels contributed to a happy life and that they would help youngsters grow into strong and productive citizens. Because of his own poor childhood, "George F." believed that carousels should be enjoyed by everyone and insisted that municipalities never to charge money for these magical rides. It was a common practice for a piece of litter to buy admission to ride the carousel. To this day, all rides are free.

carousel horse

June 24, 1923 - George W. Johnson Park, located at 201 Oak Hill Avenue in Endicott, opened. The park is located on the North side and "Little Italy" neighborhoods of Endicott, at the Western end of Witherill Street and on the West Side of Oak Hill Avenue. The park was maintained by Endicott- Johnson Corporation until its purchase by the Village of Endicott. This park still hosts one of the historic carousels of Broome County.

carousel horse

1934 - The carousel was installed in 1934 at the George W. Johnson Park in Endicott. This carousel is a smaller one with 36 horses sitting three abreast, each of which is a "jumper", two chariots, and is in its original 16-sided wooden pavilion. It was named the "Most Humble Carousel" when it was constructed because it was built within walking distance to several factories, tanneries, and to the homes of Endicott -Johnson workers. The carousel is on the National Register of Historic places.

carousel horse

More than 10,000 carousels were built between 1880 and the 1930's. Today there are only 100 antique wooden, hand-carved carousels in operation within the U.S.A. The carousel at George W. Johnson Park was manufactured by the Allan Herschell Companies of North Tonawanda, New York, in the "country fair" style. Herschell carousels are considered the cadillac of carousels with their wooden, hand-carved animals. Only 19 of the 75 original Herschell carousels still exist, six of which are in Broome County municipal parks. Broome County is known as the "Carousel Capital of the World". These beautiful carousels are extremely rare and are considered true works of art.

carousel plaque

carousel masthead

carousel horse saddle

1992 - The carousel at George W. Johnson Park was placed on the National Register of Historic places.
1994 - The carousel at George W. Johnson Park, Endicott, was historically restored by R&F Design in Bristol, Connecticut. The $192,000 restoration was funded by a combination of a federal Community Development Block Grant obtained by the Town of Union, a grant from New York State Historical Preservation Society, funds budgeted for the Village of Endicott parks, money raised by selling T-shirts and other memorabilia at a Carousel festival, and by the sale of bricks from the Endicott-Johnson Corporation building that was torn down.
May 22, 1994 - A 60th Anniversary Carousel Rededication celebration was held at George W. Johnson Park in Endicott. In attendance were some of George F. Johnson's descendants.
1999 - A glass enclosure was added to the carousel at George W. Johnson Park, Endicott. The enclosure provided protection from weather and vandals. This $50,000 renovation was fully funded by funds raised from private sources - no tax dollars were used.
2013 - Marks the 90th Anniversary of the opening of the George W. Johnson Park in Endicott.
2014 - Marks the 80th Anniversary of the beautiful carousel at George W. Johnson Park. The carousel is truly one of the area's beloved treasures and can be enjoyed by all for many years to come. In the words of George F. Johnson,
"If anything has been done for joy that has made you a bit happier, hand it on to somebody else just as soon as you can. That's the way to keep square with the world." (1934)

This project is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.
Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.