Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Take A Visual Walk Into Summerville's Enchanting Past-The Landmarks And The Stories

The Lake House is a 2006 romantic drama with unusual twists starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. It is a film about two people who live in different time periods. They meet by way of letters left in a mailbox at a lake house they have both lived in at separate points in time. Architect Alex Wyler lives in 2004 and Doctor Kate Forster lives in 2006. They carry on correspondence by way of the mailbox and form a relationship. There is a point in the movie where Alex invites Kate to take a walking tour with him by way of a map he leaves in the mailbox to view his favorite architectural landmarks in Chicago.

This is what I invite you to do with me-take an imaginative, visual walking tour by way of images from the past and present for a glance at treasured landmarks of Summerville separated only by the passing of time. Possibly, we may unknowingly cross paths at the railroad station while attempting to recover a book left there years earlier - Persuasion.

Visitors were greeted by this overhead arch for over three decades in the early 1900's welcoming them to Summerville. The brick archway was near the intersection of N. Main St and Highway 78. It meant 'coming home' to travelers as well as residents. When leaving, the last thing you saw was the town's motto, "Let the Pine be Sacred."

This is what the intersection of N. Main St and Highway 78 look like today. The archway no longer exists, replaced with traffic lights.

Summerville's famous Azalea Park, home of the Flowertown Festival, was started in 1933 and completed in 1935. All the flowers planted in the park, 33,000 of them, came from George Segelken's Summerville Floral Nursery. Mr. Segelken was a pioneer in the propagation of azaleas.

Tourists flocked to the park. Bumper to bumper traffic lines on a Sunday afternoon were a common sight. They came because of the beauty, but also because azaleas were an uncommon sight and relatively unknown in South Carolina, except in Summerville. The park runs along S. Main Street.

The scene coming into downtown Summerville on Central Ave in the early 1900's. Tupper Pharmacy is on the right and Bishop's Grocery is in the center. Tupper Pharmacy was started in 1900 by Dr. George Tupper. The pharmacy carried a limited line of non-pharmaceuticals, such as candy, newspapers, and magazines. Pine Forest Inn visitors came to the pharmacy for the New York editions of the newspapers.

Today, Tupper Pharmacy is home to Marigolds and Bishop's Grocery is now the location of Ginger Snaps. The section of road known as Short Central is closed to cars and is a gathering place for Third Thursday festivities and visitors shopping locally owned small businesses.

Arriving and departing guests of the Pine Forest Inn passed through these decorative columns for forty years, beginning in 1891. The inn was world renown and visited by many celebrities, a showcase among Southern inns. It was advertised as being "situated on the outskirts of one of the prettiest villages in the Southland."

The columns are all that is left of the Pine Forest Inn. The final owner took what could be salvaged from the interior and demolished the structure. The preserved columns can be viewed near Linwood Dr. and President's Circle.

The Darlington Cocoa-Cola Bottling Plant opened in 1915. It was located on Cedar Street. Summervillians were captivated by the bottling process in the plant, especially the kids. About the Coke Plant's front windows, it was said there were "more nose prints than any other windows in town." Mrs. Salisbury, vice president for 14 years, was quoted by the Summerville Journal Scene on March 20,1987 as saying, "The children loved to come inside, watch for awhile, then we'd take them back and give them a free coke and some cookies."

The YMCA now occupies the location.

The old Town Hall was built in the early 1890's. The bell that hung in the bell tower was given to Summerville in 1893. The bell came from the Holy communion Church in Charleston, which became the Porter Military Academy or "The Arsenal." The bell rang in the new year, marked the opening and closing of business hours and was used as a fire alarm. There was a $200 fine for unauthorized ringing of the bell.

A popular story tells of a physician named Louis Miles ringing the bell to announce the birth of his daughter to the gathered crowd and gladly paying the fine.

Old Town Hall was torn down in the 1960's. Plans were drawn for the new Town Hall, but the location was not as of yet decided. Several sites were considered. The decision was made to keep it at the head of Town Square where it is today. The new Town hall was dedicated on November 14, 1969.

This is Town Square around 1920 looking from W. Richardson. The main train depot can be seen at the other end of the Square. It was an impressive 100 feet long and 25 feet wide. The Summerville Short ran back and forth to Charleston several times a day from the station.

The Arcade Theatre entrance on S. Main St, marked by a triple-arched facade, can be seen on the right side of the photo. Silent movies were shown at the theater.

This is Town Square today looking from the same location. The trees are much bigger and there is more landscaping. The train depot can no longer be seen at the other end-demolished in the 1960's, and the Arcade Theatre was torn down around the 1930's.

I hope you enjoyed our walk in time. This is the first installment. I will be sending the next shortly. Keep in expectation.

(Pictures taken from Images of America-Summerville by Jerry Crotty and Margaret Ann Michels, Porch Rocker Recollections, Summerville Sesquicentennial Edition.)


Kathy said...

I enjoyed your photos of then and now. Interesting to see how things have changed over time. I have lived in Summerville for 12 years now, having grown up in the nearby Hollywood/Charleston area. Love the history that surrounds me here! Thanks for sharing.- Kathy

Anonymous said...

In your photo of Central Avenue, the modern picture still identifies the structure as Bishops Grocery. This is actually a relatively new building built by Spencer and Paul Lynch in honor of their parents Seymor and Margie Lynch who operated businesses on short Central for years. Bishops Grocery burned many years ago. Lovely pictures though thanks for sharing.

Rick Dunbar said...

Kathy, thank you for your comment and you are welcome.

Rick Dunbar said...

Thank you anonymous for your comment and the history. Yes, Ginger Snaps is where Bishop's Grocery used to be and the present building is newer. Because of space, I chose not to state those details.

Heather Pallay said...

This is wonderful! I enjoy local history & I can't wait to see more!

Gray Eubank said...

Great to see these old photos. Dr. Louis was my godfather and best of friends with my grandfather. He rang the fire bell not for his daughter but for my mother, Shirley Gardner, when she was born in 1922. During WWII my mother was part of a volunteer group that watched for German planes from that same tower. As a child I spent many happy hours rambling through the museum that was housed in the old opera house.
Gray Eubank

Ramona Grimsley said...


Mary Ellen Byrd Creech said...

Delightful picture comparison with narrative of our home town of then & now! Thank you for sharing!

Rick Dunbar said...

You are welcome, Mary. Happy you liked it.