Since the city was founded in 1805, Mount Vernon’s Public Square has been a focal point for public life. The many events on the square have a distinctly local character: in rallies, demonstrations, and parades, residents come together to express community values and to engage in civic discourse. Area citizens and visitors alike enjoy the Saturday morning Farmers Markets, First Fridays, and the annual Dan Emmett Music and Arts Festival, which draws over twenty thousand people and is a highlight of the year. The Public Square remains a monument to the past and a symbol of Mount Vernon’s continued vitality.

“What defines a community like Mount Vernon is its Public Square. When they had World War II, the honor roll of those who died was posted on the square. When Clement Vallandigham gave his famous antiwar speech during the Civil War, it happened on the square. It’s a place of public discourse, it’s a place of celebration, it’s a place of memory.” Pat Crow, director, Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau

“[The Farmers Market] is a fun and exciting thing–people are happy, but it’s relaxed. People are taking time to catch their breaths, stop, and talk to someone. During the week it’s always on your cell phone, driving down the road, no time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. But they do it at the Farmers Market on Saturdays.” Troy Cooper, county director, OSU Extension Office–Knox County

“[The Public Square] sends a message, I believe. When you come to the center of Mount Vernon, you have this Civil War monument, you also have the fountain, you also have the Veterans Walk of Honor, and a place to sit in some sort of serene, outdoor area. It not only means a lot to the people who come and live in the area, but also to the people who are passing through.” Richard Mavis, mayor, Mount Vernon

In the 1870s Mount Vernon displayed local and national pride by holding a Memorial Day parade for Knox County’s Civil War veterans. More than three thousand local men had fought in the war. Courtesy Knox County Historical Society 
Celebrations on the square not only have a civic component but also are distinctly social. When World War I ended, hundreds of citizens flooded the square and joyously paraded down Main Street. Courtesy Knox County Historical Society 

Storefronts and buildings on the square have had a wide variety of uses. Here, the Masons of Mount Vernon celebrate their 1910 Centennial Parade in front of the Masonic Lodge on the square. The building now houses a tailoring and alterations shop. Courtesy Knox County Historical Society Background photo courtesy Bill Ernst 
When Japan surrendered and World War II ended on August 15, 1945, men, women, and children gathered in the square to share the news and celebrate the victory. Courtesy Knox County Historical Society 
Dedicated on July 4, 1877, the Mount Vernon Civil War monument commemorates Knox County residents who gave their lives in this divisive war. Courtesy Knox County Historical Society