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Case Studies 

Courthouse Square Park




Contributed by 
Rob Orndorff
Project for Public Spaces
April 17, 2003
December 14, 2017

A passive park in the heart of downtown Montgomery County.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Courthouse Square Park was dedicated on June 8, 1997. It encompasses one and one-half acres and incorporates a lawn ellipse surrounded by a pleached hedge of littleleaf lindens, brick walkways, teak benches, stone retaining walls, with landscape areas of shrubs and flowerbeds. A fountain, historical markers and a statue of a Civil War soldier are part of this park that surrounds the Historic Red Brick Courthouse in downtown Rockville.

Access & Linkages

Courthouse Square Park provides a pleasant green space with walkways for pedestrians to use as they attend court, visit nearby shops, restaurants, and movie theaters, or as a place for neighbors of nearby condominiums and apartments to enjoy an evening stroll. The walks are accessible and well lighted.

Comfort & Image

Around the ellipse are benches that provide a comfortable area to have a lunch or to watch the Brown Bag Concerts, which are hosted by the City's Recreation and Parks Department. Seating also surrounds the fountain, on which stands the statue "Spirit of Rockville." Here people can sit and relax as the sound of water washes out the noise of the street. The park is well maintained with a daily walk through by Parks staff to assure that the little litter that does occur is quickly removed. Cigarette urns near seating areas were incorporated into the design of the park and are well used. Weekly maintenance keeps the park neat, trimmed, and weed-free.

Uses & Activities

Courthouse Square Park is heavily used as a pedestrian way and a meeting place. People of all ages use the park, as it is central to the downtown shops, restaurants and movie theaters. It is also the only green space available to residents of nearby condominiums and apartments. The park is the site of numerous events such as Brown Bag Concerts, the Bike to Work Day Kickoff, Jeb Stuart Days, Shakespeare in the Park, and the City's premiere event, Hometown Holidays. The park provides a backdrop for newlyweds to be photographed after they have tied the knot at the County Courthouse. Television reporters use the park as a recognizable location when reporting on high profile court cases. Politicians have found that the park works well to announce their candidacy or their position on important issues.


With the "Spirit of Rockville" statue as a landmark, many visitors to the town center use this area as a meeting place. Whether meeting for lunch or dinner, attending a movie or filing court papers, Courthouse Square Park is a primary meeting spot. Lawyers and business people stroll with shoppers during the day, and at night residents mingle with young people who have come to see a movie.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

The area around the park is rich in history. The Red Brick Courthouse, with its 96-foot tower, was built in 1891. On the grounds of the park is a bronze memorial to the men who signed the Hungerford Resolves, a precursor to the Declaration of Independence, and a statue erected in 1913 to honor the Montgomery County men who fought in the Civil War. Held aloft in the hand of the Spirit of Rockville is a poem written by Richard Whitfield, a high school student from Rockville that reads: As another day approaches, I pray for my neighbors. To live in freedom's light, In peace with one another. Though stumbling on occasion, Unified, we endure For We the People Are the future; We are Rockville.

Related Links & Sources

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Courthouse Square Park

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.


Corrections or additions? Email info@pps.org
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