Known as Flowertown in the Pines, the town of Summerville is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Charleston. It’s the perfect spot to visit for a dose of small town charm, rich history and Southern hospitality.
Situated on a pine-forested ridge, Summerville was first inhabited in the late 1700s as Charlestonians and Lowcountry residents flocked to the town to escape the summer heat, mosquitos and disease. During the late spring and summer months, plantation families along the nearby Ashley River and other coastal areas headed for Summerville’s higher elevation. Other pioneer residents descended from those 1696 puritans who settled the nearby former colonial settlement of Dorchester, endowing Summerville with a heritage spanning three centuries.
Everyone’s southern favorite sweet tea also has its roots in Summerville. The tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) arrived in Summerville in the late 1700s imported by Andre Michaux, a French explorer and botanist. In 1888, Dr. Charles Shepard was the first to successfully propagate and produce tea for consumption when he acquired 600 acres in Summerville and established the Pinehurst Tea Plantation.
Sights to see and things to do in Summerville
- Summerville’s downtown square is as quaint as it gets. Shop the boutiques, grab a cup of coffee or visit one of the many antique stores. From 5-8 p.m. the third Thursday of the month, downtown is filled with family entertainment, music, artisan booths and more. The Summerville Farmers’ Market is open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday through Dec. 20 behind Town Hall at 200 South Main St.
- From 1697 until the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the trading town of Dorchester flourished along the Ashley River. But at the start of the war, the town was abandoned and just a handful of original structures remain. Today, Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site’s remarkably preserved archaeological remains give visitors a peek into the early history of colonial South Carolina.
- Located in the historic James F. Dean Theater, the Flowertown Players is Summerville’s only full-time theater organization. Featuring talent from all over the area, this community theater this is a great way to experience quality performances with a community feel. This fall, enjoy Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” from Oct. 31 to Nov. 9 and “The Sound of Music” Dec. 5-21.
- Board the trolley for the Good Eats on the Sweet Tea Trail, a tour that includes samples from local restaurants, tales of 400 years of local history and stories from knowledgeable guides. Departs from the Summerville Dorchester Museum, 100 E. Doty Ave., every second and third Friday of the month.
Learn more about all there is to see and do in Summerville at visitsummerville.com.