The Santa Monica Pier has recently restored a visible piece of history by returning the “Merry Go-Round” hand-painted sign to the exterior of the historic Hippodrome building, currently the home of the pier’s 1922 carousel and an old-fashioned soda fountain.
Officials with the Pier Restoration Corp. (PRC), which is responsible for maintaining and promoting the iconic landmark, hired Los Angeles painter-sculptor and installation artist Richard Ankrom to restore the sign, according to pier historian Jim Harris.
Originally the Hippodrome building was tan with blue trim — the same color scheme as today. It was built and opened in 1916 as a featured amusement on the Looff Pleasure Pier.
In the 1930s the color scheme was changed to tan with red trim and the original “Merry Go-Round” lettering was added. In 1983 the building was returned to its original coloring (tan with blue trim) and the lettering was removed.
Since the building has had no significant markings or signage since the original color scheme was restored, the merry go-round (a.k.a. carousel) has been difficult for pier visitors to locate — even with its prime location at the bottom of the pier bridge, Harris said.
Bringing back the signage was proposed by the PRC earlier this year and the Landmark’s Commission unanimously agreed.
“The Merry Go-Round has been the cornerstone of the Santa Monica Pier since 1916, and this restoration of its signage is both a nod to history and easy identification of the treasured horses inside,” said Harris, who also serves as deputy director of the PRC.