GREENSBORO — Greensboro Science Center visitors ask almost daily about the four-story circular building rapidly taking shape at the end of the parking lot.
Those who don’t know “get super excited when they find out it will be a giant carousel,” said Glenn Dobrogosz, the center’s chief executive officer.
Thanks to the Rotary Club of Greensboro, a custom-made carousel will turn inside that building by late spring or early summer 2019.
The $3 million project will feature not only the carousel, but the building that will house it and a surrounding plaza.
It will pay tribute to the city’s history and the Rotary Club’s 100th anniversary in 2017.
“It’s going to be something we’ll all be proud of,” said Bernie Mann, the president and publisher of Our State magazine and the president of the Rotary carousel project.
The area called the Greensboro Community Carousel Quarter sits at the end of the science center’s parking lot at 4301 Lawndale Drive, on the hill that leads to Country Park.
It will become part of the recently formed Battleground Parks District, more than 400 acres encompassing the science center, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Country Park and Tannenbaum Historic Park.
Chris Wilson, an assistant city manager, has called the carousel “the crown jewel of the Battleground Parks District.”
Carousel Works in Mansfield, Ohio, the world’s largest manufacturer of wooden carousels, is now creating this one.
It will be the largest carousel in the state, said Ray Covington, a club member and a leader in the carousel effort.
It will display 56 figures carved from basswood, half of them horses. A variety of animals will make up the other half.
Among them are Revolutionary War Gen. Nathanael Greene’s horse, college mascots, a Greensboro Grasshopper and science center animals. It also will hold two handicapped-accessible stationary chariots.
It will celebrate city history through artwork on panels, called rounding boards, around the top of the carousel.
Lindsey Architecture has designed the building to house it, now under construction by Samet Corp. The Joseph M. Bryan Carousel House honors the late city insurance executive, philanthropist and long-time Rotarian.
The 12-sided structure will be customized with partial solid window walls and a drop-down garage-style door with windows, so that the carousel can operate year-round.
The plaza and garden will feature a central 20-foot clock tower, sponsored by Schiffman’s Jewelers.
If the weather cooperates, the building should be completed in February, before a March party for supporters and those interested in the project.
The carousel should be delivered in May for installation, Covington said.
To finance the project, the club has raised just short of its $3 million cost. Less than $200,000 remains to be raised, Covington said.
“The community support has been phenomenal,” Covington said. “We have people contacting us, wanting to participate in this generational gift to the community.”
After project expenses are paid, any remaining money raised will go into a fund for carousel upkeep, Covington said.
The science center will manage the carousel and retain revenues.
The center will decide what to charge for a ride, but Covington expects it to be nominal. “We want to make sure that everyone rides the carousel,” Covington said.
The city of Burlington has discovered the benefits and pleasures of having an original carousel.
Burlington’s City Park features a Dentzel carousel, built around the turn of the 20th century. The city bought it in 1948.
“Our carousel has been a gem in our community since the 1940s,” said Rachel Kelly, Burlington assistant city manager. “Children and families come from near and far to visit.”
But that carousel has been closed since August. Experts have determined it needs a full restoration, which will cost $1 million to $1.2 million, Kelly said.
The city hopes to have it completely restored and reopened in 2021, Kelly said.
Mann, a past president of the Rotary Club of Greensboro, originated the carousel idea here.
The local club has sent money overseas to eradicate polio and build water projects.
The carousel project allows the local club and community to see the fruits of its efforts, and enjoy them, Mann said.
Mann and Covington hope to be among the first to ride it.
“I love carousels,” Mann said. “So does everybody.”