The Court House Square
The Court House Square
MARY G. WALSH
There is in any community a section which means "Our Town." In Cumberland, Maryland, it's "The Court House Square," located on land once used as the parade ground of Colonial Fort Cumberland. This historic spot comprises a number of lots presented to the county by Thomas Beall of Samuel when Cumberland was first laid out in 1785.
These lots were to be used for public buildings and the first building, facing on Washington Street, was a court house and jail completed in 1798.
A new court house was erected across the street in 1839.
In 1844 the ground surrounding these buildings was laid out as a square and given the name "Prospect."
Whether one says "Court House Square" or "Prospect Square" it is an interesting place to visit, a fascinating one to remember.
The present court house was built in 1893 and is a typical Victorian structure. Directly across from it, next to the first Court House, stands the Cumberland Free Public Library, a miniature Greek Parthenon, erected in 18 50 to house the Allegany County Academy, a school which even then had a long history in the development of education in Western Maryland.
Allegany County was established in 1789. Cumberland was made a post town in 1795. Two years later, in 1797 there were one hundred and twenty families in Cumberland; three churches, three mills and one hundred dwellings, and the hardy pioneers began to turn their attention to the means of providing education for their children.
A petition for a public school was made to the Maryland Legislature which on January 15, 1798, passed an act entitled "An Act to Incorporate a School in Allegany County."
An extract from the law reads as follows:
"WHEREAS, it is reasonable that education should be extended to the several parts of this State, and that there should be a public school in Allegany County, therefore
"BE IT ENACTED by the General Assembly of Maryland, that in order to the erecting and building a house and other conveniences for a county school, the persons hereinafter named shall have the power to purchase one or more acres of land in or adjoining the Town of Cumberland, in Allegany County, to wit: John Lynn, Evan Gwynn, William McMahon, Joseph Cresap, David Lynn, Patrick Murdock, Hanson Briscoe, John B. Beall and John C. Beatty, who shall be visitors of said school: which said persons so nominated visitors
Mary G. Walsh
Mary Walsh was the director of the Cumberland Library from its inception in 1924, and later the Allegany County Library System. She retired from this position in 1963.
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland
22 x 15 cms
Editor: Felix G. Robinson