Danbury in Fairfield County, Connecticut — The American Northeast (New England)
The Circus Comes to Town
— The Museum in the Streets® —
Danbury was home to several early pioneers of the American circus in the mid 1800s. In fact, Aaron Turner, proprietor of one of the earliest American traveling shows, was actually P.T. Barnum’s mentor. From 1836 to 1838, Barnum traveled with Aaron Turner’s wagon circus and worked as a ticket seller.
Turner’s Columbian Circus consisted of trick horseback riding, tumbling and clown acts. He is also noted as the first to erect a canvas tent for performances. At only 50 feet in diameter, Turner’s tent was large enough to shelter his show and his audience from the elements.
The Turner House Hotel was built in 1850 next to the courthouse on the corner of main and Turner Streets; now Main and State Streets.
George F. Bailey, Turner’s son-in-law took over the circus after his father-in-law’s death in 1854.
Bailey’s was the first American circus to tour Latin America and his menagerie included the first hippopotamus brought to the United States.
For several decades, land and outbuildings behind the Turner House served as winter quarters for the circus. The Danbury Times printed
“They will erect their tent on the lot in the rear of the Turner House. We trust that our citizens will more than fill their spacious pavilion for a presentation of costly and rare curiosities, viz: the only Hippopotamus in the world that can be made to obey its keeper, the Polar Bear, a young African Elephant, and a two humped camel.”
The building was razed in 1965.
Erected by The Museum in the Streets®. (Marker Number 33.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the The Museum in the Streets®: Danbury, Connecticut series list. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1867.
Location. 41° 23.424′ N, 73° 26.907′ W. Marker is in Danbury, Connecticut, in Fairfield County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street and Wooster Street, on the right when traveling south on Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 80 Main Street, Danbury CT 06810, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Danbury Raid (within shouting distance of this marker); Danbury (within shouting distance of this marker); The Danbury Court House (within shouting distance of this marker); Oldest Cemetery 1684Danbury 9-11 Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Schools and Education (within shouting distance of this marker); Elmwood Park (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Industrial Strength Danbury (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Danbury.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 25, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 25, 2014, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 833 times since then and 65 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 25, 2014, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.