Pullen Park is known for it’s carousel, but many people don’t realize that there’s another antique carousel in downtown Raleigh. Historic Chavis Park, about 2 miles east of Pullen, has been home to a carousel since it was sold to the city for $4000 in the 30s. The carousel was made by the Allan Herschell Carousel Factory and sports a Wurlitzer #146a band organ with an ornately carved face.
Named after John Chavis, an African-American educator and theologian, the park was built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration. It its heyday, the park boasted an Olympic-sized pool, a replica of a Tuskegee Airman-style plane and a train similar to Pullen’s. Cab Calloway was filmed during a visit to the pool while in town to play a show at Memorial Auditorium. The city has faced criticism in recent years as city funds have been allocated to other parks, with the perception that Chavis Park has been left to languish.
In 2006, a striking piece of public art named Glimpses of the Promised Land was added to the park. Made from recycled steel beams, stainless steel hospital trays and an old truck axle, Carrboro artist Mike Roig‘s kinetic structure greets visitors at the park’s main entrance. Roig says that the sculpture was inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen. The piece was purchased with money from the city Arts Commission‘s Red Wolf Ramble project.
Chavis Park is a pleasant 37-acre green space with great views of downtown Raleigh. The park resources include playgrounds, picnic shelters, a running track, lighted ball fields and a community center.