If you’ve driven through downtown Summerville in the last six months, you’ve probably seen that Hutchinson Square is under a major renovation. The vision for the renovation started several years ago and the final phase is set to open next month, making the renovation complete. I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look back at the history of the square. The earliest picture I found was in the book Images of America Summerville by Jerry Crotty & Margaret Ann Michels. The picture dates back to the 1880’s. The oak trees were young and the streets not yet paved but the park is beginning to take form with the line of oaks and the center sidewalks. The buildings to the left were starting to be constructed but not yet bricked as they are today. The original train depot, a classic Victorian style building with elaborate gingerbread trim, can barely be seen at the far end of the park to the left. It was built around 1886 and later moved to Ladson to make way for the larger depot that was needed.
The road was paved with bricks shortly thereafter, as seen in the photo dating back to 1916 with T model cars and horse and buggy. The train station was a landmark in Summerville at that time and many business men commuted back and forth to Charleston daily. During the current renovation, over 20,000 bricks from the original road were recovered. Surprisingly, they were in great shape and because they were such a part of the history, they were preserved and used in the current renovations.
The current renovations were designed to echo the original park. The new pavilion is reminiscent of the train depot. The central walkways are keeping true to the original park plan. A fountain was added which is also from an older version of park. The vision for the renovated park is not only to preserve it’s history in structure, but to provide a park for the community that can be used everyday as well as for events, being a gathering place for the people of Summerville. As I looked out of my window, I caught a glimpse of someone walking their dogs in the park. It’s already being enjoyed by the community.