There are two types of landfills – the physical and the perceptual. Perceptual filling involves using words to fill in the cultural gullies of an area. Georgia Regents University has renamed the former Augusta State University grounds the “Summerville Campus.” However, it has ignored the Frog Hollow neighborhood that was filled in to create the medical campus.
Considering the acrimonious nature between the former Arsenal-university properties to the village of Summerville, it is ironic that the name is attached. The property has never been, historically or legally, a part of Summerville. It was ceded to the U.S. government in 1826, then to the state of Georgia following the arsenal’s closure.
Trouble began before the arsenal moved to the Belle Vue tract in 1826. Although there were few permanent residents in the area in 1826, complaints arose about lowering property values; possible powder explosions; and low-class soldiers running amok through the village to the spoilage of young, and presumably old, women. The criticisms then shifted to higher-level discordant comments about bells, cannon firing, odorous smells from the garbage pit and industrial noise to later grievances about parking garages, student housing plans, increasing traffic, uncultured students speeding through the surrounding neighborhoods and, of course, a return to lowering property values.
Why not use the name “Arsenal Campus?” The former ASU historic preservation plan refers to the historic arsenal as the “centerpiece” of the campus. This same centerpiece is reportedly to be the office of GRU’s president. I recommend rethinking the use of “Summerville campus” and align it to a better local history.
For those still holding the “Save the A” signs, keep them out – this time for the Arsenal campus.