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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Local government

Descendants of Natatorium Park owners honored with monument to their ‘precious’ memories

July 22, 2022 Updated Wed., July 27, 2022 at 4:45 p.m.

By Jase Picanso and Carly Dykes The Spokesman-Review

Spokane’s Natatorium Park is now only a fond memory for many people, including those who attended a Historic Monument Dedication on Friday for the once owners of the park.

But the park’s legacy was evident as members of the Vogel family, such as Gerry Sperling, the step-daughter of Natatorium owner Lloyd Vogel, spoke at the celebration, detailing growing up there.

The Vogel family dedication of the rocky monument was held at Fairmount Memorial Park, with a reception following in Riverfront Park at the Looff Carrousel, a Natatorium relic. Both events were organized and paid for by Gerry Sperling and Bill Sperling with support of the Riverfront Park staff and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“My memories are precious, and finally the Looff Carrousel remains with the city of Spokane. A gem for all to enjoy, and something that now belongs to the people that live on into the next 50 or 100 years,” Sperling said.

The Vogel family owned the park for many years. The iconic 1909 Carrousel was a wedding gift for Louis Vogel and his wife, Emma, from her father, Charles Looff, who created many famous carousels, including the first in the country at Coney Island, New York.

Natatorium Park began as a trolley park originally named Twickenham Park owned by Spokane United Railways until Louis Vogel bought it in 1929.

Natatorium closed in 1967. Sperling recalled the vast 43 acres of gardens, picnic areas, amusement rides, a dance hall, penny arcade and of course the Carrousel, where the giraffe named after Sperling resides.

Sperling was 7 when she started working at the pop stand in Natatorium. She found herself alongside her grandfather, Louis, and her father, helping maintain the magic Natatorium created for locals and tourists.

At the ceremony, Sperling honored Betty Larget, who restored the Looff Carrousel in 2018, with a plaque that will reside in the Carrousel building as a tribute to Larget’s artistry.

“I’m very proud of the Spokane Carrousel, but I’m more proud that I’ve been able to help carousels around the world,” Larget said. “It was the best investment the city ever made … the stories, the looks on people’s faces, you can’t replace that.”

This story has been changed to reflect the organization and funding of the event.

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