The town square was a gift of Oliver Bigelow when he laid out Johnstown in 1813. Today the square is called Bigelow Park in his honor.
This area had been set aside for the town by Mr. Bigelow as a green space for the many lots he was selling. Also most of the new arrivals to Johnstown came from towns in the east that had such public spaces, It was quite common to see this "common" or community green space being used for citizens gathering for community events or family picnics and afternoon games or concerts. Planted trees provided shade for those who came here to rest.
Bigelow died in 1817, but his dream became a reality in 1883 when Elijah Barton began the Town Hall/Opera House. to be erected in this open green space. The plaque outside notes that this edifice completed in 1885 is to be known as the Monroe Township Building.
On January 1, 1885 it was dedicated “forever” to the village. It was considered the civic center of the Village. Today the Monroe Township Trustees have control of the building and land adjacent, and the Village Council controls the land adjoining the twenty foot strip of land next to the building. Currently, the Johnstown Historical Society maintains their museum on the first floor.
Bigelow Park is a recognized recreational property that is afforded protection under the requirements of Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Act of 1966. Use of Federal Funds subjects the proposed undertaking to the requirements of this federal law that protects publicly owned parks, recreation areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and public or privately-owned historical resources.
Bigelow Park, which includes the Monroe Township Hall and Opera House, is open to the public and maintained and operated by the City of Johnstown.
The park contains a bandstand (gazebo), park benches, bicycle racks, green space, the original town hall tower bell, picnic tables and a brick seating area surrounding the village clock.
Bigelow Park is a main gathering point for festivals, events, and village activities throughout the year. Although a portion of the park is owned by Monroe Township, a resolution passed on March 6, 2010, recognized that the City of Johnstown would represent the township during project decision-making and be the Official with Jurisdiction over Bigelow Park.