Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Summerville Historic District
The hilltop neighborhood of Summerville was a distinct community separate from Augusta by the late 18th century. This small village on the sand hills west of town was situated astride the Indian Trading Road connecting Augusta with the Creek Indian Nation to the west. Part of that road is roughly followed by parts of today’s Broad Street, Battle Row, upper McDowell Street, and Wrightsboro Road. Prominent Augusta citizens like George Walton, John Milledge, and Thomas Cumming acquired large tracts of land on the hill in the 1780s. Their names remain even now as the names of major Summerville streets.
Early on, local people recognized that the air up on “The
Hill” was not only cooler in summer but seemingly healthier as well.
While malarial fever was a common ailment in the downtown area, “The
Hill” was free of this problem. In 1820 a major outbreak
of fever in the city nearly wiped out the entire garrison stationed
at the U.S. Arsenal near the river in Harrisburg. At the recommendation
of the commanding officer, the U.S. Government purchased about 72 acres
from Freeman Walker’s “Bellevue” plantation on “The
Hill,” and relocated the arsenal to this more healthful environment
by 1827. The arsenal is now the campus of Augusta State University.
The belief that “The Hill” was a healthful place is reflected
in some of the place names that survive like “Monte Sano”—Mount
Health in Spanish.
In the 1890s Summerville became a fashionable winter
resort and golf capital with the construction of several large hotels
and later the nearby Augusta National Golf Club. The village transformed itself from a
small summer resort for the local population to a winter playground for
wealthy northern industrialists and politicians. Two resort hotels,
The Partridge Inn and the Bon Air Hotel,
hosted captains of industry and Presidents of the United States, who came
south to escape the cold winter weather of the North. Some
of the winter visitors built winter residences on "The Hill," while others
decided to stay permanently.
A selection of interesting homes from a variety of periods includes the John Milledge House (Overton), c. 1799 and enlarged in the 20th century, at 635 Gary; the c. 1889 Queen Anne style Bryan Cumming House at 2231 Cumming Road; the Governor Charles Jones Jenkins House (Green Court) built c. 1823 at 2243 Cumming Road; and Salubrity Hall, a Tudor built in 1928 at 2259 Cumming Road. The Spanish Colonial at 704 Milledge Road was commissioned by George Sterns, president of Riverside Mill, and later became the home of novelist of African adventures, Edison Marshal. 19th-century statesman John Forsyth’s house, c. 1818, is at 728 Milledge Road and Twin Gables, c. 1913, a Dutch Colonial Revival, sits at 920 Milledge Road. The imposing Lamar–Wallace House, 1006 Johns Road, was the former home of Joseph R. Lamar, who was Woodrow Wilson’s boyhood friend, State Supreme Court Justice, and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Montrose is at 2249 Walton Way and the Church of the Good Shepherd at 2230. The Stephen Vincent Benét House is at 2500 Walton Way on the campus of Augusta State University.