About Us - History
elcome to Summerville where charm and southern hospitality blend gracefully with a modern and progressive outlook. Summerville's lovingly preserved downtown, lush public parks, friendly town square and, historic homes and gardens reflect its reputation as the Flowertown in the Pines.
Cool breezes whispering through forests of pine were what brought Summerville its first visitors in the late 1700s. Lowcountry residents found in the town’s lofty location refuge from the subtropical heat and disease of the summer. The railroad arrived in the early 1800's cutting large numbers of trees for rails and the clearing of lots to relocate the commercial center near the tracks. To protect Summerville's biggest asset, the village incorporated in 1847 and passed a first law prohibiting the cutting of certain-sized trees without permission, and fining offenders a then hefty $25. That ordinance, one of the oldest of its kind in the United States, is still on the books.
While still recovering from the War Between the States, Summerville suffered extensive destruction during the 1886 earthquake and a downtown fire which wiped out most of the buildings surrounding the town square. But in 1888 the tall pines brought good fortune when the International Congress of Physicians in Paris, declared that Summerville was one of two most healthful places in the world for victims of lung disease and the "pine scented mild climate" as most beneficial.
The town became a major health retreat as well as a refuge, this time from the hard winters of the north. This, plus Summerville's already well-known beauty and serenity, drew tourists as well as recovering patients. Grand inns and many smaller guesthouses were built. Summerville was where many of the then rich and famous pursued their lifestyle. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft were guests at one of the most famous inns, The Pine Forest, and celebrities from all fields, including music, the theater and literary arts came to enjoy Summerville's favors and an era know as The Golden Age.
Since the 1890s day tourists have come to Summerville for the local floral fairs and to enjoy millions of spring blossoms, particularly azaleas, in private and public gardens, including the mid-town Azalea Park. In 1925 the local Chamber of Commerce adopted the slogan "Flower Town in the Pines” and the town’s First Annual Flower Festival was held in 1941. In April of each year, thousands of visitors still assemble in Azalea Park to view the blooming azaleas and camellias and enjoy the annual Flowertown Festival. In May crowds come to Azalea Park for "Sculpture in the South," the Annual Exhibit and Sale where nationally known artists display fine art works of representational sculpture, creating an outdoor sculpture gallery.
Summerville is a celebration of heritage and natural beauty. The community still gathers at Town Square for the 4th of July. Friday night high school football draws a spirited, overflowing crowd. And in early December, the holiday season is ushered in when town folks meet at Town Square for the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting when thousands of white lights are turned on to brighten the downtown area.
It's all right here in Summerville... great restaurants, elegant shops, outdoor recreation, and historic sites... the amenities are endless! In Summerville, you will find a warm and welcoming community filled with a sense of undying respect for its past and a relentless commitment to its future. We hope you enjoy your stay and will return again.