Keith Summerour forever changed the landscape of architecture when he founded his firm in the early 1990s. Great care goes into each and every structure he’s been commissioned to design—from its setting and history to its owners and purpose—and that’s evident in many of his highest profile projects around the South.
Set against the majestic Great Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm has been on the project list for Summerour Architects for at least the last decade. It has designed more public and private buildings at Blackberry Farm than perhaps any other architect in its history. There’s the event center, a lodge, a restaurant, cottages, homes, and one particularly unique project: a tunnel that connects the wine cellar to a culinary barn. The wine tunnel became so popular that the firm received calls from all over the world wanting it replicated at their property.
Much of Keith’s work at Blackberry Farm is inspired by the Cotswolds in England, which is agrarian, charming, and heavily wooded. That inspiration shines through in many of the materials selected, such as barnwood and hand-hewn logs. At Blackberry Farms—much like any other location—it is important to Keith to focus heavily on the landscape, proportioning the building to the contours of the land. “When you do that,” adds DJ, “you can add in some pretty edgy and modern design as well, which is not expected but still perfectly blends and harmonizes with the land.”
Sea Island Resort
Georgia’s Sea Island Resort is known as one of the South’s most renowned resorts, and many of its homes have been designed by Keith. Summerour Architects has been working on properties here for decades, carefully highlighting the luscious landscape with well-designed homes.
Stylistically, Keith has been heavily influenced by Italian architecture, especially when designing Sea Island properties. Arched openings, large expanses of glass, porches, garden patios, and courtyards are all old-world aspects frequently seen in Sea Island homes, and they are aspects derived from Italianate architecture. “Italianate architecture lends itself so well here because of the similar climates,” notes Betsill. “Once again, it’s designing architecture that meets the expectations of the land, creating the connectivity between home and beach. These features of classic Italian architecture aren’t just aesthetic choices. It’s what feels right in designing for this climate.”
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park features 10,000 acres of breathtakingly beautiful property, and at its heart are a series of buildings designed by Summerour.
A few years ago, Keith was brought onto the project to design a multistory building housing a general store and dining room and connect it to a fully-functioning grist mill. It connects via a fully-enclosed bridge over Little Indian Creek, which runs right through the property. For the natural setting, Keith utilized much of what would be expected, including old wood and lots of stone. But in true Keith fashion, unexpected classical elements were interspersed as well. The bridge features Venetian-style elements, particularly with its large windows, which were brought in from France. “Like with every project, Keith approached it with the mentality of, ‘We know what is to be expected, but how do we disrupt this and do something unexpected?’ ” Betsill adds. “The windows really grab your attention because they are unexpected. That’s Keith.”