Check Out the Clarksville Walking Tour on Historic Franklin Street

Written by Meghan Gattignolo, Visitor Services Manager 

If you’ve spent time in Downtown Clarksville over the past year, you may have noticed a woman in a 19th-century dress walking around. That’s local tour guide Summer Sasarita performing her Clarksville Walking History Tour! Summer hails from Salina, Kansas – she started life in the Midwest, but has since traveled all over the United States and experienced a full range of American life. A little over a year ago, she decided to relocate to Clarksville to be closer to her two adult sons. Clarksville’s compelling history and unique buildings immediately captured her attention, so she got to work studying at the local archives and asking residents questions about their city’s past. Summer was inspired to start a walking tour of Downtown Clarksville and has been going strong for about a year now. I had the privilege of going on one of her tours recently and found it quite eye-opening. I sat down with Summer to learn more about the Clarksville Walking Tour.  

Photo courtesy Clarksville Walking Tour

MG: Why did you start the Clarksville Walking History Tour? 

Summer: That’s a funny story, actually. My younger son was training for a marathon in May of 2021. I took him on a run through town. He started asking me about the murals and the buildings. “Oh, that looks cool, what’s that from?” I was curious too, and it piqued my curiosity. I had coffee at Founding Frothers where I met Ryan [Bowie, of the Roxy Regional Theatre] and Jody [Isaacs, of Journey’s Eye Studio] for the first time. We started talking, and I brought up that maybe I should host running tours.  Jody said, “Well, maybe walking tours.” After that, I started picking everyone’s brains, and then started July 2021. I studied in the archives every day. Journey’s Eye Studio made sense as a home base due to its location and welcome center.  

MG: Which Clarksville story is your favorite right now? 

Summer: Strawberry Alley. Against his wife Lucinda’s wishes, James Elder allowed the city to tear up her strawberry patch to make a road to the public square, creating Strawberry Alley. But Lucinda is a formidable character and refused to be forgotten. She went on to do some other things in her life that immortalized her.  

Photo courtesy Clarksville Walking Tour

Photo courtesy Clarksville Walking Tour

MG: Has anything you learned surprised you? 

Summer: All the avenues of entertainment people pursued before television. Crokinole was all the rage in the late 1800s. It’s a tabletop disc-playing game that is still played today. Also, there were so many theaters here. [It also surprises me] how rich some people were in Clarksville [in the 19th century] and how they could get anything they wanted. Fresh seafood, oysters – even when there wasn’t a nearby shore.    

MG: What do you hope to accomplish with the tour? 

Summer: Several things… I want to build the community. I hope people can learn to be proud of living in Clarksville. Not necessarily what we did in our history, but how we handled it. And to give a voice to as many people [from history] as possible. 

MG: What are some things you want everyone to know? 

Summer: When we really want to achieve something, we can do it. Also, equal opportunity is essential to a happy community. I tried to include as much information [on the tour] about enslaved people and the Black population [from the 19th and early 20th century] as possible, but much of that was captured in oral history and journals and is hard to find.   

MG: Who should come on this tour? 

Summer: Anyone who wants to be entertained, people who enjoy history and people who like to learn! 

Hear some fascinating local history and rarely-told stories for yourself on Summer’s Clarksville Walking Tour this weekend, and get acquainted with downtown in a new way. Tours start from Journey’s Eye Studio at 131 Franklin Street (a quick 2-minute walk from the Museum) every Saturday at 1 pm, or by appointment. You can also reserve a spot at your convenience by calling 702-280-8723. Tickets are $15 per person and payments are not accepted until right before the start of the tour. Ask about group rates if you have a crowd. Check out Clarksville Walking Tour on Facebook and Instagram. 

Meghan Gattignolo

Meghan Gattignolo is the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center’s Visitor Services Manager and regularly contributes articles to the Museum’s blog. From a military family, Meghan has spent most of her life in Clarksville. She loves learning about Clarksville’s history and writing. Meghan holds a B.A. in History from Austin Peay State University, with minors in German and Political Science. She lives in Clarksville with her husband and two daughters.  

Becky Wood, Technical Writer, edits each blog post. Maegan Collins, Marketing Communications Manager, prepares photographs and visual images as well as prepares the blog posts for the web. 

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