Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Nine Places In Changing Summerville You Will Want To Visit And Photograph

With a highly celebrated historical landscape, Summerville has plenty to offer the discerning amateur photographer looking for that cherished photo memento. As you stroll Hutchinson Square and beyond, surviving remnants from the town's past are there for you to discover and capture with the click of your camera. Don't hesitate, as quick as the shutter blinks, the scene of Summerville is changing, as it has and as it will. That is the nature of things. Freeze framing the moments are imperative.

Just imagine, if you dare, even the long-standing Angel Oak will eventually succumb to the powers to be. It will be a sad day when that happens, but for those who have preserved their visit to the oldest living thing east of the Rockies with a photo, its place in time will always be remembered. What will take its place in history, only time will tell.

Summerville has been richly graced with thick groves of tall pines and old oaks. Their cooling touch and healing scent was what enticed early plantation owners to take up residence on its sandy hills. From those very same trees, they constructed their simple homes. The community grew and the trees were declared sacred. In time, some of the trees bowed to the Pine Forest Inn and an era of prosperity was ushered in. Of the trees still around today, longtime residents nurture fond memories and tell stories of playing below their broad branches.

Located near the corner where W Richardson meets Central Ave and considered the oldest tree in Summerville, the old pine is scheduled for an appointment with the axman to make way for the highly contested Dorchester Hotel project. Ragged from time and weather, the trees glory days have past. People no longer come to Summerville for health, they come for the charm, the hospitality, and the history.

We could dignify the old tree the way the Hopelands Gardens in Aiken honored one of its prominent cedars when a portion of it came down. They carved benches out of the cherished wood and placed them on site for visitors to see.

Eventually, each pine in its time will succumb to the powers to be. The scene of Summerville is changing. Like the first settlers and early town planners, may we seize the opportune moments presented to us and take Summerville into another era of prosperity.

I have picked nine places in and around Summerville's rich-in-history landscape that have become my favorite framed souvenirs. I offer this list as a suggestion of places you may want to check out and photograph on your next visit.

1) Colonial Dorchester State Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. From 1697 until the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the trading town of Dorchester flourished along the Ashley River, inland from colonial Charleston. Abandoned at the start of the Revolutionary War, the town of Dorchester has all but disappeared, leaving only the remains of a brick bell tower from St. George's Anglican Church, the foundation outline of a colonial home and a the fort made of an oyster-shell concrete called tabby. More pictures.

2) Linwood Bed and Breakfast was built on a two-acre site in 1883 by Julia Drayton Hastie, heiress to Magnolia on the Ashley Plantation. Ancient camellias, azaleas, majestic magnolias and stately palms dominate the properties landscape. Elevated porches offer a panoramic view of the lush, more formal gardens. It has been a bed and breakfast for over 13 years, officially opening in 1995 with elegant guest rooms, private baths, secluded sitting areas, a large swimming pool, and wide porches. More pictures.

3) Guerin's Pharmacy was founded in 1871 by Dr. Henry C. Guerin after buying out Schwettman Drugstore and moving the business to South Main Street and Richardson Ave. The Dunnings later acquired the pharmacy in 1975. When they were remodeling the interior they discovered a white chalk message scrawled on a wall by Joe Guerin in an upstairs office. The message documented the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912. It is the oldest operating pharmacy in South Carolina. Today, you can order a float, milkshake, hot dog or lemonade from its fountain.

4) My favorite of the old inns, White Gables was built by the Peake Family somewhere between the 1830's and early 1850's. In the early 1900's, Sara Woodruff developed a fondness for the near 65 year old house located on the corner of Richardson Ave and Palmetto Street. What happened next gave birth to her distinguished story and White Gables fame. Both fascinating and amusing, it is a story unlike any other in Summerville history. More pictures.

5) Middleton Place on the Ashley was settled in the late 17th century with its main family residence constructed in 1705. The estate encompasses America's oldest landscaped gardens called "the most important and most interesting garden in America." The Gardens were started by Henry Middleton in 1741. In 1952, Middleton Place began welcoming visitors to its gardens year-round. Every year Middleton Place host the finale of the Spoleto Festival. In the spring from April to May, on Wednesday, you can enjoy the gardens and sample old and new world wines at the Wine Stroll...More pictures.

6) 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.

7) In 1938 Elizabeth Arden bought a summer home in Summerville South Carolina. The house is located at 208 Sumter Ave. It was built in 1891 for Mr. Samuel Lord, a Charleston attorney. The house was built by A. J. Baird, the man who also constructed the Pine Forest Inn. The house is still standing, but the inn was torn down. Elizabeth Arden sold the house in 1954. It had 15 rooms with 12 foot ceiling.

8) The Canada Geese on Hutchinson Square is part of The Birds in Residence Downtown Summerville Project--a collaborative effort by Summerville DREAM, Sculpture in the South, and the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. The B.I.R.D.S. are located throughout Downtown Summerville for you to search out. Maps are available to assist you.

9) Bell Tower next to Town Hall in Downtown Summerville at sunset. I took this picture during a Third Thursday--Summerville's monthly party. Things to see and do around town.

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