A popular question I am asked by out-of-town clients, is “What communities outside of the City of Charleston should we consider?”. Well, as a native of Summerville, I have good reason to recommend my hometown!
Summerville, South Carolina is just 24 miles outside of Charleston, making it the perfect day trip to add to your itinerary. Great shopping and dining establishments add to Summerville’s character, and you’ll be pleased with the variety of accommodations, including many quaint B&Bs and the five-star rated Woodlands Resort & Inn. Those of us who live here believe it’s our Southern charm and historic flavor that makes Summerville and Dorchester County a ‘must-see’ destination.
Summerville began as Pineland Village around 1785 when plantation owners came here to escape the swamp fevers and insects. In 1899, a world congress of medical specialists in the field of respiratory disease gathered in Paris. The group, known as “the Tuberculosis Congress,” named Summerville one of the two best areas in the world for the cure of lung and throat disorders. One reason was because of its situation on a dry, sandy ridge, amidst pine trees that charge the air with derivatives of turpentine. Their findings were widely publicized and a golden era began for the lower part of Dorchester County. One inn after another sprang up as the town quickly became a favorite winter resort for Northern visitors who came to enjoy the mild climate and hunting season. The most famous, The Pine Forest Inn, sometimes served as the Winter White House for Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1976 a portion of the town, including 700 homes and buildings were listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Some residents may still come to Summerville for pulmonary relief, but most come for its mild climate, excellent schools and healthcare, a vibrant downtown, a variety of housing options, small-town friendliness and the proximity to historic Charleston and the beaches. Summerville participates in Main Street, USA with a Downtown Restoration Enhancement and Management Corporation (DREAM) and has thriving fine arts, sports, museum and preservation organizations. Ever mindful of her environmental heritage, a “Tree City USA” flag adorns the pole in front of Town Hall along with Old Glory.
Summerville is host to several unique events, like Sculpture in the South, The Flowertown Festival, and Taste of the Town – all held in beautiful Azalea Park, a 12-acre oasis in the heart of town with peaceful ponds, paths, fountains, tennis courts, and an amazing collection of permanent sculpture.
The Dorchester II School District serving Summerville is recognized for having some of the best schools in the state. With a population exceeding 33,000, it is the home of football’s winningest coach, Summerville High School’s John McKissick – with 530 wins, 127 losses, and 13 tie games. .
Summerville is growing and ever-changing, but it still holds on to its important role in history and the small-town values that make it a truly charming place to visit.
-Lewis L. Lanier