Nicknamed "Flowertown in the Pines," Summerville is located approximately 25 miles northwest of Charleston, offering easy access to major metropolitan amenities. Summerville residents enjoy a mild climate, good schools and an excellent health care system. This growing city has a population of about 44,000 and covers 15.4 square miles.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
In 2009, Inc.com rated Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville No. 6 in the "Top 10 Midsize Cities for Doing Business." Summerville's economy mainly relies on the tourism business. Other major industries in Summerville are educational, health and social services, manufacturing and retail trade.
One of the largest employers in Summerville is American LaFrance, a manufacturer of fire engines, ambulances, and fire boats.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Summerville has about 11,000 houses with about 90 percent occupancy. Out of these occupied houses, around 6,800 houses are occupied by the owners, whereas, renters occupy about 3,600 houses.
Some of the city's distinct neighborhoods are:
- Summerville Historic District: This expensive area includes the charming downtown area and features classic home styles, from craftsman style to low country plantation. Homes date back to the late 1800s and boast large lots and mature trees.
- Ashborough: This large neighborhood includes homes built in the 1980s and early 1990s. Ashborough offers more affordable homes, while the Ashborough East community is slightly more expensive.
- Brandymill: First developed in the 1980s and finished in the early 1990s, Brandymill offers a range of home styles including small brick houses to large vinyl siding homes.
- Middleton Place Plantation: A National Historic Landmark, this 18th-century plantation was home to Declaration of Independence signatory Arthur Middleton, as well as to Henry Middleton, president of the First Continental Congress. The terraces, alleys, ornamental ponds and garden rooms surrounding the plantation comprise the oldest landscaped gardens in America. The property also includes a house museum, stable yards, an inn and a restaurant.
- Dorchester State Historic Site: Located 15 miles upriver from Charleston on the Ashley River, this archaeological treasure offers a glimpse at Dorchester, a town that was abandoned after the Revolutionary War. The site displays the town's remains, including an 18th-century brick bell tower from St. George's Anglican Church.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Summerville Community Orchestra: This community orchestra, which consists of local musicians, performs annual concerts in Summerville and participates in Charleston's Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
- Summerville Singers: The chorus of volunteer musicians sings sacred and secular selections.
- Flowertown Players: The only theater company in Summerville, this troupe performs musicals, comedies and dramas at the James F. Dean Community Center.
- Summerville Dorchester Museum: Located in the old Summerville police station, this cultural and natural history museum showcases prehistoric fossils, as well as exhibits on Native Americans, the Grand Inns of Summerville, and America's first tea plantation.
- Henry Timrod Library: The historic library features some 50,000 volumes, including bestsellers, children's literature, reference material, audio- and videotapes and books by South Carolina authors. The library also hosts an annual book fair and lecture series.
- Gahagan Park Sports Complex features lighted fields for football, soccer and baseball games. The playground area is ideal for children, and includes a picnic area. The city also has facilities for golf, shooting and horseback riding.
- Each spring the Charles Dubose Golf Tournament raises money for Alzheimer's Family Services and Respite Care. The event includes food, drinks and prizes.
- The Music and Motion Family Fun Center provides space for roller-skating, inline skating and speed skating. The family-friendly facility also has a game room and food court and sponsors after-school and summer programs.
- Azalea Park: Home to Summerville's biggest events, this handsome park is filled with ponds, tennis courts, brass statues, walking paths and fountains.
- Flowertown Festival: This three-day event features some 200 artists and crafters displaying and selling their work, making it the largest arts-and-crafts show in South Carolina. The main fundraiser for the Summerville Family YMCA, the Flowertown Festival attracts 250,000 people each year. Live entertainment, children's activities and a tennis tournament round out the festival, which is held at Azalea Park.
- Taste of the Town: Summerville's veterans are honored during this fall festival featuring food from the city's top restaurants, as well as live music, including a performance by the Summerville Community Orchestra.
- Sculpture in the South: The annual outdoor art festival features the work of students and professional sculptors, as well as a barbecue. A pre-event reception gives the public a chance to meet the sculptors and get a sneak peek at the art exhibits before the main event.
- Summerville Farmers Market: Baked goods, fresh produce and other foods are sold every Saturday from early spring to late fall at this outdoor marketplace.
- Red, White and Blue on the Green: This Fourth of July celebration features food, music and a non-motorized parade that includes decorated bikes, baby carriages and wagons. A fireworks display at Gahagan Sports Complex caps off the festivities.
- Givhans Ferry State Park: The plants that inhabit this park's riverbanks are so rare that the banks are protected as a Heritage Trust site. The Edisto River, the longest free-flowing blackwater stream in North America, runs through the several-hundred-acre park, which also features a mountain bike trail, campgrounds, rustic cabins and areas for fishing, boating and picnics. The park is well-known for its limestone river bluffs and its sinkholes, which can be up to eight feet deep.
- Francis Beidler Forest: More than 16,000 acres of the 45,000-acre Four Holes Swamp make up Francis Beidler Forest, the largest stand of virgin Baldcypress and Tupelo Gum forest in the world. Walking tours and canoe trips enable visitors to explore the forest's 1,000-year-old trees and native wildlife.
- TheMiddleton Place Outdoor Program offers nature hikes, swamp tours and guided kayak rides that tour the habitats of birds, alligators, bald eagles and deer.