“However, they had to always use it as a park. They could not ever build anything on it,” Reed said. “That’s why it’s always continued to be a beautiful, landscaped, grassy area.”
During the Civil War, Marietta’s square took on new role.
Confederate troops took over the city by 1863 and converted it into a hospital town. Almost every building on the square was turned into a medical facility. As soldiers were wounded in Tennessee and north Georgia, they were sent down the railroad to Marietta. Then, Union forces under Gen. William T. Sherman invaded in 1864, pushed out the Confederates and set up in Marietta for the same purpose.
“Once the Union army left town, they burned pretty much everything on the square,” Reed said.
Only two buildings survived, one of which was the Kennesaw House, which was built as a cotton warehouse in 1845 and is now home to the history museum. Even the courthouse had to be rebuilt.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the square was the hub for social life, government, business and shopping, Reed said.
Shopping malls and outlets rose in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, creating vacancies, Reed said. Some specialty shops and fine dining restaurants opened in empty storefronts during the 90s.
Today, 37 shops and 33 restaurants, including coffee, tea and ice cream shops, are located on the square, according to the Marietta Visitors Bureau. The square also features 13 museums and entertainment facilities, about a dozen government and law offices, and 20 specialty shops, like hair and nail salons. The square hosts farmers and artisan markets, annual events like Chalktoberfest in the fall, and even family reunions.
“Hundreds of events take place on the square each year,” said Katie Peterson, Marietta Visitors Bureau executive director.
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