The Square in Carlisle has always been an epicenter of momentous events.

Long before the current trend of rallies and protests, the intersection of High and Hanover streets has been the focal point of gatherings born of controversy, conflict, unity and resolve.

The history of the crossroads goes back to 1749 when Cumberland Valley residents presented a petition to the Pennsylvania provincial assembly asking that land west of the Susquehanna River and north of York County be designated as Cumberland County.

Back then, the valley was under the jurisdiction of Lancaster County, but residents felt the remoteness of that county seat made it easier for criminals to evade justice. The assembly granted the petition on Jan. 27, 1750, and Shippensburg, being the only large settlement in the valley, was designated the temporary Cumberland County seat.

Cumberland County was vast in those early days, stretching as far west as present-day Pittsburgh. But technically, the Pennsylvania colony only owned land as far as the Kittatinny Mountains. Following a review process, the area around LeTort Spring Run was chosen as the permanent county seat.

Local historian James D. Flower wrote about this in his 1983 book “The Planning of Carlisle and Its Center Square.” He wrote that on May 30, 1750, Thomas Penn wrote a letter detailing instructions for laying out a county seat called “Carlisle”. Penn had recommended a grid pattern that would include a square in the center of the layout. The original plan for Carlisle called for a rectangle bounded by North, East, South and West streets.

A county prison was supposed to be the first public building constructed on the Square. But a decision was made in spring 1753 to build the prison at what is now the northwest corner of High and Bedford streets. It was felt the move would allow inmates better access to charitable relief.

Construction on the Square was delayed due to a lack of money and disputes over the site and town layout. Though the plan emphasized the need for both a courthouse and market house, the first building on the Square was a small fort. Starting in 1756, this was replaced by a larger structure that occupied the southern half of the Square and served as headquarters for colonial troops. That fort was dismantled after the French were defeated on the frontier in 1758. Below are details on 10 key events that have taken place on the Square in the course of its history: