Summerville’s 175th: Tourism officials update ‘Walking the Ville’ tour to highlight town history | Community News

Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series The Journal Scene is running for 2022 in commemoration of Summerville’s 175th anniversary as an included town. The series will explore aspects of Summerville’s history. If you would like to suggest a story or issue from Summerville’s past for us to write about, email news@journalscene.com.

Summerville’s tourism experts have given a longtime downtown walking tour a bit of a facelift.

“Walking the Ville” is a self-guided tour that takes visitors and tourists to historic stops in and around Hutchinson Square downtown. Now, as part of the celebration for the town’s 175th anniversary, it has audio and other virtual features to help teach more about the stories behind the sites.

The tour begins at the Summerville Dorchester Museum on East Doty Avenue, which also offers tours guided by museum historians for those interested in booking in advance. But visitors can also go to Visit Summerville’s website and follow the tour themselves.

Included are stops like the James F. Dean Theatre, a movie theater from the silent film era and which is now the theater for Flowertown Players, and Guerin’s Pharmacy, the oldest operating pharmacy in South Carolina. The audio options tell the stories of people like Saul Alexander, a Ukrainian refugee who started his own business downtown and became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in town, and Catherine “Kitty” Smith Springs, whose story is told on a “bonus stop” at the Church of the Epiphany on Central Avenue. Springs was a woman of color who ran a successful business shortly after the Civil War and who made charitable donations to schools and organizations that served people of all races.

Visit Summerville, the town’s tourism department, teamed up with event nonprofit Summerville DREAM to record their stories. Summerville DREAM executive director Steve Doniger said the town hopes to have signs bearing QR codes, so that visitors can scan them and pull up the history and recordings on their phones, by early next week.

Tina Zimmerman, director of Visit Summerville, said is has been great to use the anniversary to highlight the history of the town she calls “Charleston’s little sister.”

“Our hopes are that we will ‘Walk the Ville’ and do the west side of town,” Zimmerman said. “We hope that these tours expand and we tell all the history.”

Included in the Walking the Ville tour is:

  • The Summerville Dorchester Museum, 100 E. Doty Ave.;
  • The Icehouse, 104 E. Doty Ave.;
  • The Bittersohn Inn on Magnolia Street;
  • The Coburn Hutchinson House, 125 E. Richardson Ave.;
  • The James F. Dean Theatre, 133 S. Main St.;
  • Town Hall, 200 S. Main St.;
  • Guerin’s Pharmacy, 104 S. Main St.;
  • The site of Saul Alexander’s Clothing Store, 100 S. Main St. Ste. A (now Cuppa Manna coffee house);
  • The Railroad Depot at Hutchinson Square;
  • The Summerville Arch at the corner of Doty and Main streets;
  • Kitty Springs bonus stop, the Church of the Epiphany, 212 Central Ave.;
  • Timrod Library, 217 Central Ave.; and
  • World’s Largest Sweet Tea, 200 S. Main St.

To read about the tour or listen to the audio, go to www.visitsummerville.com/summerville-walking-the-ville-history-tour.

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