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Summerville scenes: The people, places and parks

If you haven’t visited downtown Summerville lately, you’re missing out. Downtown is thriving. I drove to Summerville last week and walked through the town’s square, Azalea Park and some of the bucolic streets nearby.

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One of many charming cottages located near Hutchinson Square in Summerville. Photo/JA Surette.

It was one of those perfect Lowcounty days—low 70s, partly sunny, low humidity. People were sitting outside having lunch, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or meeting in small groups in Hutchinson Square—in a socially distanced way—to mingle. It felt normal again, even with mask wearing being in place inside the shops, cafes and restaurants.

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Two lifelong Summerville residents (and Post and Courier readers) brought their own chairs to enjoy the day in Hutchinson Square. Photo/JA Surette.

The Garden

"The Garden" is a sculpture by Susie Chisholm. It is the 17th bronze sculpture in Summerville's permanent collection and sits on a bench in Hutchinson Park. Photo/JA Surette.

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Take a walk behind Guerin's Pharmacy, the state's oldest operating pharmacy established in 1871 and you'll find some eclectic art. The art culture is a large part of downtown Summerville's charm. Photo/JA Surette.

A people watching, dog-walking paradise-like ambiance, the town is reminiscent of simpler times. A time when everyone knew everyone else, and “regulars” stopped by for lunch or dinner in one of the town’s restaurants. We’ve all missed gathering and socializing in the past year. Slowly, we are finding our way back and the village square is the perfect place to do so.

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Cuppa Manna is a favorite hangout in the middle of the historic district. Inside are works of art, comfy mid-century modern furniture, tables and oh yes, lots of good coffee, teas, breakfast, lunch, pastries and specialty beverages. It also hosts open mic nights, when available and with COVID restrictions. Photo/JA Surette.

Summerville’s vibe is “we’re back” and “welcome.”

Mayor Ricky Waring loves his town and grew up here, witnessing the changes and revitalization of his home base.

Mayor Waring

Mayor Waring

“Summerville is a special place. I was born and raised in Summerville and I raised my family here as well,” Waring said. “Summerville has a lot of good people, opportunities and businesses packed into our town limits. We are growing very fast because word spreads. As Mayor, I am working with Council to try our very best to maintain the special small town charm we have and still be able to absorb the new friendly faces that want to call Summerville home.”

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One never knows what whimsical feature will show up during a walk in Summerville. Here a horse swing hangs from a tree outside a home on Main Street, named "Tickled Pink." Photo/JA Surette.

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This cottage style home looks straight out of a storybook with the quintessential picket fence surrounding it. It appears as if bluebirds and small forest animals could appear at any minute. Photo/JA Surette.


Known for its Flowertown Festival founded in 1972 to support the town’s YMCA, the event is back this year. Normally, the festival is in late March or early April, while all the flowers are in full bloom. This year, it’s back but slated for October 8-10. With the town’s idyllic location and usually cooler temps during the fall, it promises to be one of Summerville’s best ever. Putting the CDC’s guidelines into place — masks, sanitizing stations and vendor spacing — won’t put a damper on the one of the Southeast’s largest arts and crafts festivals.

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The motto on Summerville's official seal is "Sacra Pinus Esto - The Pine is Sacred." The Hutchinson Square Revitalization Project was approved in 2015 and the ribbon cutting was held in 2019. The project won an Engineering Excellence Award in 2016, an annual competition that recognizes engineering achievement. Photo/JA Surette.

Everyday Heroes

"Everyday Heroes," is a life-size permanent collection sculpture on main street behind Summerville's Town Hall. It is by Robert Allison and honors firefighters, police, EMS and the sheriff's department. Photo/JA Surette.

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Diners and shoppers gather at the end of Central Avenue. Photo/JA Surette.

Summerville’s unique sculpture collection is like none other. Scattered through the town, Azalea Park and the Gahagan Sports Complex, there are a total of 23 bronze sculptures. “Sculpture in the South,” began in 1999, and funds to make this unique addition to Summerville were solely through donations from townspeople and businesses.

River Rapture

One of 11 sculptures in Azalea Park, this one is called "River Rapture" by Kim Shaklee. The seven-foot tall otter was added in 2009. Photo/JA Surette.

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"Follow the Leader" by W. Stanley Proctor was the third sculpture installed in Azalea Park. It's is life-sized -- five children and their dog play and encourage part visitors to do the same. Though there are just peeks of azaleas blooming now, in a few weeks, the park will be bright with color. Photo/JA Surette.

Hop to It

"Hop to it" by Kim Shaklee is 53" inches tall and in Azalea Park. Dedicated in 1999, it is within the 12-acre garden park a few blocks from downtown. Photo/JA Surette.

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"Flying" by Vala Ola was dedicated to Azalea Park in 2016. Photo/JA Surette.

Usually, an event is held every year in Azalea Park to showcase juried sculptors from all over the county and Canada. This year, it is a virtual gallery. The annual event, Spotlight on Sculpture Gala, has been tentatively scheduled for September 24-25.

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Main Street's' wine shop, Accent on Wine, had people stopping by for a wine tasting. Photo/JA Surette.

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Diners and shoppers gather at the end of Central Avenue. Photo/JA Surette.

A day in Summerville

If you can’t get to main street, Hutchinson Square and Azalea Park soon, browse through my pictorial. A storybook setting with a strong sense of community—Summerville just keeps getting better.

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A row of shops right off of Hutchinson Square Park. Photo/JA Surette.

Public Works Art Center

Downtown Summerville's Public Works Art Center provides a cultural hub for artists and visitors. It normally hosts events, book signings, community art classes and various exhibitions. In addition, artists from all oe the country can rent one of twelve spaces for studios. 

Summerville Town Hall

The Town Hall is located across the street from Hutchinson Square Park. Photo/JA Surette.

Canada Geese

Near Hutchinson Square's fountain is "Canada Geese" by Paul Rhymer. Part of the B.I.R.D.S. program, more than twenty life-sized bronzes overlook the town from their perches on balconies, windowsills, shop signs and rooftops. Photo/JA Surette.


Summerville facts

· Once a small forest ridge known as Pineland Village, Charlestonians escaped to “the Flowertown in the Pines” to relax and rejuvenate from the summer heat, mosquitos and disease. At the turn of the century, Summerville was a resort escape for wealthy Northerners. 

· The railroad modernized the community in the 1800s and the village was established in 1847, which prohibited cutting certain trees without permission.

· In the 19th century, Paris physicians declared Summerville as one of the two best places in the world for the treatment and recovery of lung disorders. What followed was an influx of people seeking help and visitors – Summerville sprung up with businesses and homes.

· The town’s official seal is “Sacra Pinus Esto,” or “The Pine is Sacred.”

· In the late 1970s, Summerville’s population was 6,000 people. The Town of Summerville now has nearly 50,000 residents.

· Summerville holds a Farmers Market every Saturday, rain or shine, in historic downtown from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., from April to November.

· Summerville is in the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Sweet Tea on National Iced Tea Day, on June 10, 2016. It brewed 210 pounds of local tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation with 1,700 pounds of Dixie Crystals.

· Downtown has approximately 25 vendors along its “Sweet Tea Trail”—from cafes to wine shops to restaurants to boutique shopping, located on and surrounding its main street.

· There are 20 historic homes in the Culbert Community Center in Azalea Park on West 5th South Street. A former resident, Sue Sanders started the self-guided “Sue Sanders Historic Homes and Flowers Walking Tour”. Sanders was active in conserving Summerville’s beauty by chairing recreation, planning and tree committees. She served as a town council member, was in the Flowertown Garden Club, the Preservation Society, Sculpture in the South and as a concierge at the Woodlands Resort and Inn. She also worked for the Chamber of Commerce to let guests and visitors know about the history of her beloved town. Ms. Sanders died in 2018, and the tour was renamed in her honor.

· Summerville has over 700 homes and buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

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