Historic Properties of Spokane
The Natatorium Carousel is a product of a lost craft and is representative of one of the few arts intended solely to amuse. Charles I. D. Looff, a renowned carousel artist, designed the "merry-go-round" in 1909 and it has been operating in Spokane ever since. The gilded and elaborately carved carousel, adorned with leaping horses and jungle animals, is said to be the last operating carousel designed by Looff. While most of Looff's horses were gentle, jolly creatures, those of the Spokane carousel are dashing fiery steeds that appear to race around the room. Each animal has details that proclaim its individuality and they are decorated with brightly colored flowers, parrots, cupids, gamebirds, bedrolls and clusters of fruit. The carousel was first located at the famed Natatorium Park, an amusement park on the Spokane River developed by Washington Water Power in 1893 and since converted to a trailer park. In 1975 it moved to Riverfront Park which was created in conjunction with Expo ’74, the World’s Fair hosted by Spokane in 1974. The carousel was a wedding gift to Looff’s daughter, Emma Vogel, and her husband, Louis Vogel, a Spokane banker and longtime owner of Natatorium Park. The carousel is the last remnant of the popular park and a fixture at the present park downtown.