Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Johnson County

September 20, 2009

New look contemplated for Market Square in downtown Cleburne

The Market Square in downtown Cleburne may soon have a drastically different, and improved, look.

Plans to renovate the county owned square remain preliminary with no firm decisions having been reached.

Commissioner Rick Bailey said he hopes to see movement on the project in the near future, however.

“It’s something I thought about over the years as a resident in the area before I became commissioner,” Bailey said. “I watched the improvements Howard Dudley brought in with Wright Plaza and Liberty Hotel, and I always thought the Market Square was a vital asset that wasn’t being used to its potential.”

The Market Square was established in 1898 after 11 men who did not want to wait for an expenditure of public money donated the land to the county forever, according to a Texas Historical Committee marker posted on the property.

People were already setting up shop to sell produce and other goods on the Johnson County Courthouse square, which prompted county commissioners to accept the donation, according to a handwritten remembrance of the 1912 courthouse fire written by an unknown author — possibly A.J. Wright.

The document is housed in County Judge Roger Harmon’s office in the courthouse.

“These people would bring their products to town and stop on the square of the courthouse to exchange and sell their products,” according to the document. “This was very unsightly and also unsanitary. When the men would go to court, it is said, they had to walk over watermelon rinds to get in the courthouse.”

Commissioners apparently thought the current Market Square location, several blocks from the courthouse, would be a better place for such activities.

Since taking office, Bailey has focused on the project, having already worked with County Attorney Bill Moore to contact Texas Historical Commission officials to discuss and receive permission to carry out planned renovations.

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