Natatorium Park Owners
Louis L. Vogel 1879–1952. Lloyd L. Vogel 1907–1965
Emma F. Looff Vogel 1879–1938 Pauline M. Palmars Vogel 1907–1948
Louis Vogel was born on February 17, 1879, in Brooklyn, New York, the second child of German immigrants, John and Elizabeth Happel Vogel. Louis had an older sister, two younger brothers, and two younger sisters. Emma F. Looff was the second of five children. She was born on June 28, 1879, in Brooklyn to Charles I. D. and Anna Dolle Looff. Charles Looff, also a German immigrant and a master wood carver, was the builder of hand-carved carrousels and amusement rides. He built the first carrousel in the United States, located at Coney Island.
Louis was pursuing a banking career in Brooklyn when he met Emma Looff, and on February 22, 1904, they married. They had two sons, Charles Harold and Lloyd Louis.
In 1907, Emma’s father, Charles Looff, visited Spokane and was commissioned to design a carrousel for Natatorium Park. The hand-carved carrousel took two years to craft and featured 54 unique horses, a giraffe, a tiger, and two chariots, all carved by Looff himself. In 1909, when Looff notified Natatorium Park that the $20,000 carrousel was complete, he found that Washington Water Power had taken over the park from the owner who had skipped town. They could not honor the contract. Looff then negotiated to provide the carrousel and have his son-in-law operate it and other concessions on a percentage basis. Looff gifted the carrousel to Louis and Emma as a wedding present and the couple moved to Spokane. On July 18, 1909, the carrousel made its first revolution in Natatorium Park and Louis Vogel worked as the concessions director. The park flourished with the carrousel averaging 100,000 passengers per year.
On April 13, 1929, the Vogels purchased Natatorium Park for $137,500. Under their ownership, the park’s rides were updated and new attractions were added on a yearly basis. The Vogel’s son, Lloyd, was a pyrotechnics expert and showman and the park became known for its brilliant fireworks displays. Natatorium had its last good years during the “Big Band Era” featuring live performances of Glenn Miller, Sammy Kaye, Phil Harris, Gene Krupa, Kay Kayser, Bob Wills, Tommy Dorsey, Bing Crosby, Fats Domino, the Grand Ole Opry, Little Richard, and many more. Babe Ruth played an exhibition game there in 1924.
Emma Vogel passed away on April 3, 1938. On September 9, 1939, Louis married Lilla T. Winters Penfield in Portland, Oregon. After Louis passed away on June 17, 1952, his son, Lloyd, took over Natatorium Park and operated it until its sale in 1962. Lilla Vogel passed away on October 1, 1976, in Spokane.
Lloyd Vogel was born in Brooklyn on July 25, 1907. He married Pauline M. Palmars of Spokane on December 14, 1929. Pauline passed away at the age of 41 on December 4, 1948. On August 8, 1950, Lloyd married Stella J. Featherly, the daughter of Gilbert and Irene Peone Carraher, in Great Falls, Montana. The couple eventually divorced.
Lloyd Vogel moved to New York to direct the fireworks display for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. After the close of the fair and the day before he was to return to Spokane, Lloyd passed away unexpectedly.
Since 1975, Looff’s carrousel resides in Riverfront Park. It is beautiful, well-preserved, and still true to the Vogel family legacy of creating wonderful memories for Spokane families.