Descriptions of antebellum Summerville are charming and involve narrow roads winding around tall trees and connecting yards where fires flickered and illuminated neighbors gathering on the broad porches of their rustic homes.
“In time, apparently tiring of the back-and-forth moves and encouraged by the sociability of the closer quarters, Summerville’s “marooners” – those setting up temporary homes to escape the summer heat, mosquitos and accompanying diseases of their Lowcountry lands – began creating progressively more permanent structures. So many of his parishioners lived in Summerville that the St. George rector scheduled regular summer services in the village and erected a chapel that later became St. Paul’s, Summerville’s first church.”
This excerpt from “Images of America: Summerville” tells part of the history of the unique village settled in the late 1600s by plantation owners escaping from Charleston’s summer heat that developed into a popular resort destination for wealthy northerners at the turn of the 20th century, was a sleepy small town for most of the 1900s and boomed into a community of more than 43,000 residents between 1980 and 2010.
Released in 2011 by Arcadia Publishing, it is the first history of Summerville by a national publisher. The 128-page book uses archival photographs, documents and stories to present the shaping of the town.
“Arcadia Publishing proudly welcomes ‘Summerville’ to our popular Images of America series. ‘Summerville’ embodies our Images of America series by preserving the community’s rich history while bridging the past with the present,” said Arcadia sales and marketing specialist Katie Combs.
As with other books in the series, the images depicted in “Summerville” were collected from private residents and local organizations, including the Summerville-Dorchester Museum.
“The wonderful and varied photographs in ‘Images of America: Summerville’ show the vibrant and unique history of a growing town, offering many new pictures not previously seen by the public. The Summerville- Dorchester Museum was happy to provide materials for this book, which showcases the people and places of Summerville and helps preserve them for future generations,” said Judy G. Burn, president of the museum’s board of directors.
Jerry Crotty, co-author of the book and a Summerville resident, said he has received nothing but compliments since the book came out.
“Most touching among people’s reactions was a friend of my wife who reported enthusiastically that her aged grandmother who had been communicating less and less became suddenly energized by reading the book – recalling stories about times and friends shared at some of the pictured locations,” Crotty explained.
“Another acquaintance said she, her son and her husband enjoyed a long evening together with a map and the book spread out on the kitchen table,” said Crotty. “Particularly gratifying was one woman with deep and prominent roots here complimenting me for illustrating and putting the story together in an easy-to-access way that covers it all but doesn’t get bogged down in detail.”
“Images of America: Summerville” is available at the Summerville-Dorchester Museum, Guerin’s Pharmacy and other local stores. Online orders can be placed at www.arcadiapublishing.com.
By Margaret Ann Michels