Summerfield History

The community that became known as Summerfield traces its roots back to 1769 when Charles Bruce bought 640 acres in what is now the heart of Summerfield. During the Revolutionary War, the Bruce home was the birthplace and muster site for a group of patriots known as the “Friends of Liberty.” During the Revolution, Charles Bruce acted as a recruiting officer and assisted the American Army in their fight against local Tories and the British Army.

There were several Revolutionary War skirmishes in the area leading up to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse (1781). James Gillies, a bugler for American General “Light Horse” Harry Lee, was killed in one such skirmish and is buried in the Bruce graveyard across from Summerfield Elementary School. The Bugler Boy has become an important part of Summerfield’s history. The newspaper at the school was called “The Bugler” and a sketch of him with his bugle is on the town seal. After the war, President George Washington’s 1791 Southern Tour may have taken him through the community on his way between Salem and Guilford Courthouse Battlefield.

The community that developed around Bruce’s homestead was called Bruce’s Crossroads until 1812. The name was changed to Summerfield by residents who were quite fond of an evangelist named John Summerfield who preached a revival in the area and settled in the community.

In the early years, the community was strictly agricultural. Crops such as corn, tobacco, and cattle provided the growing markets of Greensboro and Winston-Salem. Soon, stores and businesses began to spring up to support farming and the area thrived.

In the 1870s stores were constructed at the crossroads of what is now NC-150 (Oak Ridge Rd) and old US-220 (Summerfield Road). This area became the hub of the community. Two stores built by George Smith, a resident of the community, are noted for their brickwork. The Brittain store and the Ogburn-Gordon store operated from the 1870s until the 1950s. There was a garage, a drug store, and a blacksmith shop in this area. To the south, on Summerfield Road, was another group of businesses. This collection included a sawmill, post office, school, grocery store, and many other small family-run businesses. It was also during this time that the Yadkin and Southern Railroad Company laid a rail line through the community. The railroad ran north from Greensboro through Summerfield and on to Mount Airy. A depot was constructed to provide for passenger and freight delivery to the growing community of Summerfield. The railroad removed the tracks in the 1960s and 1970s, but evidence of the railroad can still be seen along the Toscana and Lake Brandt Greenways.

The original crossroads and surrounding buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 with a total of 35 contributing resources and 20 noncontributing resources. This designation helps preserve and protect these structures.

Summerfield was incorporated as a town in 1996 and has continued to grow and expand in all directions. The Brittain building, where people loved to gather around a pot-bellied stove to catch up on the local news, was donated to the town by Bill Parrish in 1996. It was restored and is used today as the Town Hall and a museum.

(Information gathered by Linda Southard, Gladys Scarlette, former mayor Bill Peterson and former Council member Jim Alexander.)