The nucleus of settlement was begun in the middle of Fayette County as early as 1820. The town of Somerville was established as the seat of Fayette County, which had been created by an act of the Tennessee General Assembly in 1824. It was named in honor of Lieutenant Robert M. Somerville, a soldier in the War of 1812 who was killed in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. The town was developed on land donated by George Bowers and James Brown who each gave 25 acres. Property records show that Dr. Josiah Higgason bought for $50, on January 14, 1829, "a certain lot of ground in the town of Somerville." Today the old Higgason home, more than 100 years old, still stands on Main Street. By 1835, Somerville and her sister village, La Grange TownLa Grange, had proved that their venture at settlement was permanent, and applied to the State legislature for charters. In May 1836, there were enough residents to file for incorporation and Somerville, TN was established as the county seat.
The town's business district was laid out in a traditional court square plan, ensuring commercial development around the square with residential growth expanding for the most part to the south. Growth and expansion in Somerville occurred primarily during the years following the Civil War, as evidenced by the large number of fine Victorian era residences and commercial buildings. Four separate courthouses, all at the same location have since served Fayette County. The first, a one-story log building erected in 1825 as a temporary structure, was replaced in 1833 with a two-story brick building. The third courthouse, a Victorian style building, was constructed in 1876 but burned on February 10, 1925. It was replaced by the present eclectic, neoclassical structure.
Today Somerville is one of the oldest towns in the area, with an image and character shaped by a traditional Court Square and significant historic architectural heritage. In the Interim, churches had been established in the little settlement and practically the same grounds on which they now stand. Presbyterian (1852), Methodist, Episcopal, and Baptist churches were erected. Transportation routes and waterways have historically influenced the pattern of development in Somerville.
† Somerville Town Center Redevelopment Plan, 2019, www.somervilletn.org, accessed November, 2022.