Berkshire Carousel moves to former Crane facility in Dalton
DALTON -- Berkshire Carousel has moved for the last time.
Organizers of the volunteer-driven project have relocated the workshop and horses from the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough to the former Crane stationery factory in Dalton.
The downtown commercial site is the future permanent home for the proposed $2.6 million amusement ride and amenities, which will be part of a larger redevelopment effort of the complex.
It's the third site for the carousel in less than a year -- fourth overall, since the project was conceived in the mid-2000s -- that the group has considered for the construction of a self-contained, year-round attraction.
"This is our final destination," said Berkshire Carousel Director Maria Caccaviello.
The carousel workshop, along with the hand-carved wooden horses and other carousel pieces, are currently housed in part of the Flansburg Avenue mill complex, awaiting assembly in a stand-alone structure planned for behind the south loading dock.
The large, open empty space is ideal for the workshop, according to carousel volunteer Bruce Goguen.
"Crane took extremely good care of the building; no mold, no mildew, no smells," he said.
Carousel organizers this week also announced a $1.6 million capital campaign toward building the 6,000-square-foot facility expected to house the ride by the end of 2014.
A campaign kick-off event with food, drinks and live music is scheduled for Nov. 3 at Wahconah Country Club. Ticket proceeds will benefit the fundraising effort, seeded this summer by a $250,000 state matching grant. Carousel organizers have already raised the $1 million to pay for creating the amusement ride.
Dalton residents Tom Callahan and Cam Cachat are currently recruiting volunteers to head up the fundraising effort.
"We're forming a team that will be up to the challenge," Callahan said. "This will be an excellent project to be part of that I see gaining momentum."
Stephen Sears, owner of the former Crane factory, has said the smokestack and boiler room of the 100,000-square-foot building would be torn down to make room for the carousel -- rent free. He sees the merry-go-round as a catalyst to attract tenants to his downtown revitalization effort.
An artist's rendition of the carousel building -- brick façade to match the mill -- and one of the horses are on display at the Dalton Community Recreation Association on Main Street. CRA Executive Director Alison Peters says townspeople have embraced the carousel and its hundreds of volunteers who have spent thousands of hours carving, sanding and painting the wooden horses by hand.
"I'm really impressed by the people who are so creative in this area -- things I couldn't do," said Peters, a Vermont native.
Since last fall, the carousel project's board of directors had considered situating the attraction at the Berkshire Mall and a private land parcel fronting Laston Park, both in Lanesborough, but none of those plans worked out.
The first plan for the project was to house the carousel in a year-round facility, along with a gift shop and cafe, on a vacant lot near downtown Pittsfield.
However, last October, the board announced its plans to operate the merry-go-round at the mall, where volunteers had been putting the finishing touches on the horses and other parts of the attraction. Later, the site was changed to a self-contained building on land next to Lanesborough's Laston Park on Route 7, but that plan also fell through due to financial considerations.
Unlike the Laston Park plan, carousel officials aren't asking for any financial support from the town of Dalton.
Caccaviello said the carousel is about a month away from being assembled.
Since 2008, more than 300 women and men have spent thousands of hours creating the 32 wooden horses, 14 rounding boards, two chariots, a donkey and other handcrafted items that will adorn the privately funded attraction.
Once volunteers wrap up work on the two chariots and replacement horses, they will begin to attach all their handiwork to an 85-year-old carousel frame and operating mechanism, which is being refurbished in Ohio. If you go ... What: Rock and Roll Carousel, a kick-off of a Berkshire Carousel capital campaign to raise $1.6 million for a self-contained building to house its carousel in Dalton. The event features live music with the Just-N-Kace band and other area groups, and a beer- and wine tasting organized by Kellys Package Store. When: 12:30 to 7 p.m. Nov. 3 Where: Wahconah Country Club, Dalton Advance tickets: $15 to $25, available online at berkshirecarousel.eventbrite.com. How to help: Send checks to Berkshire Carousel, P. O. Box 23, Dalton, Mass. 01227, attn. Capital Fund.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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