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Civil War Memorial, Centre Square, Easton PA | by road_less_trvled
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Civil War Memorial, Centre Square, Easton PA

In 1765, the Courthouse for Northampton County was constructed in the Great Square. Eleven years later, on 8 July 1776, Robert Levers (the official who administered Northampton County for the new Revolutionary government) read the new Declaration of Independence from the steps of that Courthouse – one of only three places to have a public reading of the document by that date. The Courthouse bell was rung for the occasion. Now known as the “Northampton County Liberty Bell”, it is today displayed at the Northampton County Government Center on Seventh Street.

 

On 26 July 1782 – the summer after General Washington’s decisive victory at Yorktown – a ball was given in the Easton Courthouse in the General’s honor by Meyer (also spelled Myer) Hart, an original Easton settler in 1752 who became the town’s wealthiest merchant.

 

In the late 1840s, the Great Square acquired its modern informal designation as “The Circle”, as the result of a governmental dispute. At that time, the Northampton County Courthouse occupied a square piece of ground in the center of the Great Square, which the Penns had provided at an annual quit rent of one red rose. The rest of the Square, however, was under the authority of the Easton Borough. The Borough had customarily held town meetings in the County Courthouse, and had occupied County space in the separate County Records Building for a fire company, but paid no rent. In 1846, the County ordered the town to vacate the space in the Records Building. In retaliation, in 1847 or ’48, the Borough encircled the Courthouse (and its square fence) with another, circular “spite fence”, which established the form of the modern roadway Circle.

 

The Civil War Monument that now stands on the old courthouse site, is a 75 foot tall obelisk topped by what is locally called the "The Bugler." Formally named the Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument, the obelisk was designed to honor all of the armed forces who fought in the Civil War, and was dedicated to local veterans in 1900. Each year, the monument is shrouded by a one hundred foot Peace Candle, which is ceremoniously lit the Friday evening after Thanksgiving and remains on display through January.

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Taken on January 30, 2008