The county seat of Chattooga County, Georgia, since the county was formed in 1838, Summerville is a nostalgically-engaging small city. About 40 miles from Chattanooga, and about 75 miles from Atlanta, it’s a fine destination for historic places enthusiasts.
I would recommend combining a visit to the Summerville historic sites with a visit to the picturesque James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park, which is 3.5 miles from downtown. Or, combine it with a visit to other nearby historic places in Lafayette, Rome, Calhoun, Menlo, Mentone and Valley Head, or Fort Payne.
There are three National Register of Historic Places entries for downtown Summerville. Those are:Chattooga County Courthouse (c. 1909), which was listed in 1980
Summerville Commercial Historic District, listed in 2012
Summerville Depot (c. 1918), listed in 1992
Although the town is not set up with a public square like most rural Georgia county seats, the granite-faced courthouse is the focal point of the historic downtown. Commerce Street, which is also U.S. Hwy. 27 and the Martha Berry Hwy., is Summerville’s main street.
The original settlement likely started around the natural spring that is now a small park found downtown on Commerce. Water still pours into a creek from what is now known as Williow Spring. The creek crosses the commercial district and flows past the depot and adjacent Dowdy Park.
Courthouse and commercial district gallery
Pictured above, from top left: Circa 1909 Chattooga County Courthouse, Commerce Street scene, c. 1894 Arrington Drug Co. building, c. 1894 Arrington Drug Co. building and c. 1896 hardware store building, Commerce Street scene, Commerce Street scene with the c. 1936 gas station and the c. 1937 post office, Commerce Street scene, Commerce Street scene, Commerce Street scene with red c. 1947 Tooga Theater building, Willow Spring Park, Washington Street’s curvy sidewalk leads from Commerce Street to depot, and a look at the rear of the c. 1894 Arrington Drug Co. building on Washington Street.
The railroad depot is on Washington Street only two short blocks east of the courthouse. The nicely restored prairie-style building was a combination passenger station and freight depot, and was built by Central of Georgia Railroad along one of the main lines connecting Chattanooga to Atlanta.
The depot has been home to the Chattooga County Historical Society for many years now. It’s also the turnaround location for the fabulous Tennessee Valley Railroad’s Summerville Steam Special, a nine-hour historic train trip that begins at the Grand Junction depot in Chattanooga.
A short Christmas-themed ride with Santa departs from Summerville during December.
Summerville Depot photos
There are a good number of other historic structures scattered around the city. Several historic houses are found just east of the depot while old churches, school buildings, and other houses can be found not too many blocks from Commerce Street.
Other historic structures
While you’re in downtown Summerville, you may want to stop by Dowdy Park for a walk, a picnic or to check out the veteran’s memorial. It’s a nice green space about four blocks long that stretches from the depot on Washington Street to Rome Boulevard.
Summerville is about 77 miles from Atlanta, about 40 miles from Chattanooga, about 108 miles from Birmingham and 90 miles from Huntsville.
More information about Summerville:
Sources for this article include the Summerville-related applications to the National Register of Historic Places, and www.tvrail.com.