Jantzen Beach carousel’s whereabouts remain a mystery

Mall owners, who had vowed its return, are mum

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The carousel made its original debut in Venice Beach, Calif., in 1921. Seven years later, it was repossessed for lack of monthly payments. The horses and enormous mechanical system were shipped to Jantzen Beach in 1928 to coincide with the park’s May 28 opening.

Through twists and turns and times when it was out of service, the carousel was still standing 84 years later at Jantzen Beach. The final ride was taken in April, 2012 and the carousel was removed and put into storage. The mall’s owner, Edens, a South Carolina property development and management firm, promised its return. It has several times repeated that promise.

But the company hasn’t elaborated on its plans or timeline for bringing back the artistic wonder from a bygone era. Edens did not return several calls from The Columbian for this story.

Queries from the news media and a Portland city commissioner haven’t answered specific questions about when it will be returned, or even where it is specifically located. Last summer, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish’s staff contacted the mall owners. Lyle Darnall, managing director at Edens, told Fish that the carousel was intact, safely stowed in a camera-monitored, climate controlled building at – where else? — the new Jantzen Beach Shopping Center.

That prompted The Oregonian to report that “The Jantzen Beach Carousel has been found.”

Whereabouts, exactly? That information isn’t likely to be forthcoming.

Without any new information, mystery surrounding the carousel found new legs. After all, no one had seen it since it was put away — and, of course, seeing is believing.

“Missing” remains the key word in conversation and social media discussions. With no concrete evidence to the contrary, some surmised that it was moved; others think it might have been destroyed.

But the search has spawned humor, in the form of a map that can be found on a historic preservation group’s website. The map, created by an unknown mapmaker, is inscribed “Jantzen Beach: The Temple of Doom.” A tiny line of type notes: A prominent X marks the unknown mapmaker’s assertion about the carousel’s current location.

A trail overlays a building configuration, with its start inside Target. It then makes a big loop all the way to the back of the store.

Exiting Target, the trail scoots alongside TJ Maxx, swings by Home Depot and crosses hundreds of empty parking spaces to clip the entryway of Best Buy. Finally, the trail ends at Video Only, host of the big X. The map shows the X covering the entire store.

No horses. No carousel, just a bank of televisions, all tuned to the same station.

The mystery continues.