Yesterday I heard someone mention "the courthouse lawn." I assume the person meant our Public Square. That piece of land, its name, and its concept have been important to Norristown for 229 years. It's our oldest historical landmark.
Public Squares, or Town Greens, were common at the time. Residents would have kept chickens, and possibly a cow or goats, in their backyards, but in town, extra grazing land was always needed. Also, a place was needed to hold market days, when farmers brought their goods into town. And villages recognized the need for a community gathering place, for harvest and May Day festivals, and in America, Independence Day celebrations. In a county seat, too, those with an hour's business at the courthouse would appreciate a place to stake and graze their horses without having to seek out a livery stable.
Our Public Square in 1784 would have been a simple lawn, mowed only by sheep or goats. In 1812, when Norristown incorporated as a borough and its boundaries were expanded to include over 500 acres, our founders still needed the Public Square, for most of the same reasons. They kept the pledge to keep it "open forever." It was Norristown's first park.
That's why we have a Public Square, and why, in theory, we will ALWAYS have a Public Square. So don't simply call it "the courthouse lawn." It belongs to the "public"--the people of Norristown and Montgomery County--and will "remain open forever."