Historic Summerville is home to this 1830s brick and clapboard residence, built around the time the “new” part of town was laid out by the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company in 1832. In fact, the estate was home to Henry Peak, an officer with the railroad company. There are earlier homes in the “old” part of Summerville, developed when the hamlet was a planters’ refuge, but White Gables was one of the earliest homes built in its vicinity.
The three-story house rests on an acre and a half in the heart of town, yet it remains secluded from the ever-growing community. An enclosed octagonal gazebo with a cupola, identical to ones found at Thomas Jeffferson’s Monticello in Virginia, was built on the property in 1893. It originally served as a privy.
The late nineteenth century brought an increase in population and a building boom to Summerville as several resort inns were established in the town during this time. The village’s convenient stop on the railroad to Charleston made it a popular place to stay following the Civil War. Even White Gables operated as an inn for a short period. Today it is a private residence.
White Gables is listed in the National Register as part of the Summerville Historic District:
Summerville originated as a pineland summer refuge for low country planters. Originally the streets were laid out without any plan and winding roads still characterize the oldest section of town. This “old town” lies in the southwestern portion of the historic district and contains about two thirds of the land and half the structures of the district. The South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company laid out the more regular “new town” in 1832. Streets run parallel and at right angles to the track laid in 1830-1831. The “old town” and that portion of the “new town” were incorporated into the village of Summerville in 1847. Following the Civil War, wealthy northerners began wintering there. The town’s designation in 1887 as a health spot gave it an impetus as a resort, which was not lost until the Depression of the 1930s.
There are approximately seven hundred structures within the nominated area; about 70% predate World War I. Uniting the different building styles of the town is a common sensitivity to the natural setting and to the local landscaping traditions reflected in streetscapes, parks and gardens. Raised cottages, Greek Revival influenced, and Victorian/Queen Anne and other turn of the century structures are found throughout. Antebellum buildings are principally located in the southern and western areas. Churches are located in the center of the district, and the commercial buildings—most dating from around 1900—are located on either side of the town square in front of the present town hall, which faces the railroad. Additionally, Summerville has been the center for azalea culture and there is a variety of azaleas popularly named “The Pride of Summerville.”
More Pictures of White Gables
Reflections on White Gables
Brandon Coffey, who contributed some of the photos above, also shared this wonderful information:
“This home, known as White Gables, is located in downtown Summerville and is one of my absolute favorites. Summerville was a pineland refuge for wealthy plantation owners (planters). These planters and their families would seek areas surrounding pine trees, away from lower areas of water and marsh. The air in these places was thought to have been healthier, and it was also an escape from the more mosquito-infested areas of their plantations.
“This large, pre-Civil War, three-story home was built in 1830 and was the personal residence of Henry Peak, an officer with the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company. The house was built in the popular Greek Revival style and boasts twelve rooms. The first floor is of masonry construction, and the top two levels are clapboard.
“The octagonal privy (gazebo) on the side of the home is one of the rarest and finest examples of a privy in this country. It was built in 1893 and, according to the Historic Charleston Foundation, matches two identical privies located on Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello.”