An 1894 Armitage-Herschell advertisement shows a not-at-all-dangerous-to-children-looking steam boiler and pulleys providing motive power to the company's signature device.
In gilded signs posted at its southern and northern entrances, North Tonawanda is pleased to introduce itself to visitors as "The Home of the Carrousel." Among the slumping buildings of its exhausted Oliver Street, brightly painted carousel horses are impaled on street signs, their hooves pawing the air. Allan Herschell is the reason why.
In 1872, the Armitage-Herschell Co. begins as a small brass and iron foundry on Manhattan Street, comprised of Englishman James Armitage
, and Scottish brothers George
and Allan Herschell
. The firm survives devastating fires in 1874 and 1875, and expands to a location off Oliver Street (whence comes the name, "Mechanic Street"), adding engines and boilers to their specialties. Youngest partner Allan sees a carousel while traveling, and recognizes ways it can be improved. By 1887, his "Improved Steam Riding Gallery" captivates the world, and people from India and France demand the modern amusement. The merry-go-round-makers at first import the accompanying band organs from the old European master-builders of Germany and France, but high tariffs decide them to instead import German organ maker Eugene de Kleist
from England (de Kleist begins making organs at his North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Factory
James Armitage and George Herschell die in early 1900. The Armitage-Herschell Company is succeeded by Herschell, Spillman & Company, and the Allan Herschell Company. Allan Herschell dies in 1927. The latter company continues making amusements, including miniature trains, boats and airplanes (some of which can be played upon at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum
in North Tonawanda) as late as the 1960s.