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Quaker Square Sells The Last of Its Trains, But the Circus Will Go On

photo of Harned circus train

The trains have left Quaker Station: the final remnants of the former shopping center’s train memorabilia museum were auctioned off on Saturday, as the University of Akron completes its transformation of the facility.

The Quaker Oats Company left Akron in 1970, and five years later the grain silos and offices re-opened as a train-themed mixed-use development. In 2007, the university bought the buildings.

The auction over the weekend included a miniature circus train created by Akron rubber worker Robert Harned. That piece had been in Quaker Square’s general store until it closed in 2015. But it may be on display again soon thanks to one of its new owners, Wendy Warren-Joliet of Studio Arts and Glass in North Canton.

“The circus being hand-made back in the 1920s and [being completed in] the ‘30s is just an exceptional piece of art and history for Northeast Ohio. We had to save it and preserve it.”

Warren-Joliet estimates she paid more than $2,000 for various circus-themed miniatures from the train set. A representative of The Medicine Center pharmacies in Canton and Minerva paid $2,400 for the motorized train itself, and reportedly plans to display it as well.

Warren-Joliet was saddened that the collection was broken up; it was sold in dozens of different lots.

“I grew up coming up the Quaker Square and shopping and, as a kid, loved all of the displays they had. I bought – I think – the best pieces: the animals, the giraffe, everything with horses and carriages. I think I got the really exceptional pieces, and that’s what I wanted.”

A second, non-functioning – but complete -- circus train was auctioned off by the University of Akron in 2011 to one of Robert Harned’s grand nephews.



Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.