Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summerville's Tour Guides Past And Present--Experiencing The Birthplace of Sweet Tea

In 1930's Summerville, tour guides stood by the town arch on Main Street near Highway 78 holding guide signs in their hands with hopes arriving tourists would acquire their services. The Town Hall was another gathering place for the young guides. All local boys, they would hop unto the running boards of the car when selected and direct the driver through the town past its beautiful residential gardens and key landmarks. Berlin G. Meyers was one of those young boys. He was paid a meager five dollars for his services, but as he fondly recalled, "A real fortune for a young boy in those days."

Like tea leaves steeping in a pot of sugary, hot water, Summerville has changed over the years and some of its older landmarks have gone the way of the Ford Model T. The town arch no longer graces Main Street, cars don't have running boards for young guides to stand on and if they did riding on it would probably be illegal, and the Town Hall of the 1930's has been replaced with the present one. But here is the resulting sweet tea of the story.

Tourism in Summerville is alive and growing. Through the tireless efforts of the Summerville Visitor Center and Summerville Dream in partnership with Lowcountry Loop Trolley, tours have been arranged for residents and visitors to drink in the highlights of our historic town deservedly designated the Birthplace of Sweet Tea and hear the numerous famous tales of its storied past from knowledgeable guides. The Summerville Dorchester Museum has been selected as the launch point. You can choose between three different tours scheduled throughout each month and they are as follows: Good Eats on the Sweet Tea Trail, Historic Summerville City Tour with Tea at the Museum, and Book Lovers’ Tea Tour-Timrod Library.

On the Good Eats on the Sweet Tea Trail, you will travel about historic Summerville on the Lowcountry Trolley enjoying complimentary tastes from a number of Summerville’s restaurants and gourmet shops. As an extra treat on your tris through town, Award-winning Storyteller Tim Lowry will regale you with stories of how local vegetables helped win the American Revolution, the social significance of souse meat, and the history of tea in the Birthplace of Sweet Tea. I have been on this tour. You can read my review It Was A Sweet-ride And Tea-rific Fun--"Summerville's Good Eats On The Sweet Tea Trail Tour."

The Historic Summerville City Tour with Tea at the Museum begins at the Summerville Dorchester Museum where you will get a firsthand look at Summerville rich history by way of exhibits, preserved photos and artifacts. Then you will hop on the trolley and be taken passed Summerville's lovingly preserved downtown, its many historic homes, and where sweet tea first started. Upon your return to the museum, you will be served a cup of freshly brewed tea and a sweet treat. It lasts 1 1/2 hours.

The 1 1/2 hour long Book Lovers’ Tea Tour also begins at the Summerville Dorchester Museum for a firsthand look at Summerville rich history and then takes for a ride on the trolley passed Summerville's lovingly preserved downtown, its many historic homes, and where sweet tea first started with one slightly obvious difference. You guest it, the tour makes a stop at the Timrod Library--one of only two membership libraries in South Carolina. It opened in 1915 and today houses a collection numbering in excess of 50,000 volumes including best sellers, reference materials, audio and video tapes, and a large number of South Carolina titles.

If you are a resident, whether young or old, reserve some time during the month to schedule a tour and learn about Summerville's unique place in the Lowcountry's southern culture and history. If you are a visitor, stop in the Summerville Visitor Center for information--while there grab a glass of sweet tea. Then, head to the Summerville Dorchester Museum on Doty Ave to hop onto the trolley to be taken down roads carved out by cows past summer homes built by Charleston's well-to-do. It's a tea-rific deal.

Schedule and tickets

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