Circus Pioneer – Andrew Downie

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902 Gwinn Street
Medina, New York
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Circus Pioneer Andrew Downey McFee 1863-1930
Big three ring circus owner wintered animals at home here. Pioneered moving circus with trucks.

*NOTE: Both Downey and McFee are spelled incorrectly on the marker.  Correct spelling is Andrew (Downie) McPhee.


Orleans County Historical Association — Date unknown

What was there

The home of circus pioneer, Andrew Downie McPhee.  He was the first to create the idea of a moveable circus by means of trucks of all shapes and sizes.  At least some of his wild animals were housed here.  A circus elephant was reportedly buried in the back yard!

What is there now

A private residence stands at this location on a quiet residential street.  It is uncertain whether the structures are original to McPhee, though the current home appears to be from that era.  There is now a football field directly behind the property.

More information

Downie’s show was transported on thirty-eight trucks, five trailers, three tractors and three advance trucks at the opening date. The three trucks used ahead of the show housed five men in each and were under the direction of General Agent, Jerome T. Harriman. One truck billed the towns on the route and the other two covered the surrounding country. All baggage trucks were painted red with gold and silver trim. The rolling stock was collected from many sources from anyone who would sell a truck.
Source: Bandwagon Magazine, January 1963

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We would like to thank the following for helping us with this entry:
Kelly Lucero

  1. Kelly says:

    Why on earth wouldn’t the good folks who erected this marker, check the spelling of the guy’s name?! Not one error – but two – ON HIS NAME, for God’s sake! Pretty sad. On a cheerier note…..I’d love to have a chance to dig in the back yard and see if that elephant is still there….

  2. You should have brought a red marker and drawn a squiggly line under it.

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