If you have never quite figured out whether the community north and a little east of Greensboro is called Brown Summit or Browns Summit, well, that has been a controversy for some time. Officially the name is actually “Browns Summit.” But we’ll will come back to that matter later.
Browns Summit is not an incorporated community. Historically its center has been near and around the present junction of Highway 150, the Greensboro to Danville railroad, and Brown Summit Road, which is itself the same road as “Summit Road” that heads north out of Greensboro.
According to Robert L. Phillips in his ‘The Village of Brown Summit,” the “Brown” part of the name is derived from a Jesse and Mary Brown who settled in what we now call the Browns Summit area in 1858, prior to the railroad. Their home was in the present day area of Whitford Court off Southerland drive off 150 just west of the RR track. Jesse and Mary had eleven children.
Jesse Brown had actually gone to Charleston in 1864 to join the Confederate army, and died there of natural causes in 1865. But Mary stayed in the community. She died in 1890 and was buried in the FairGroveUnitedMethodistChurchCemetery.
The “Summit” part of the name is derived from the convergence of topography and railroad construction.
A very small rural community had developed in the region of present day Browns summit when changes and growth were brought about by the construction of the Greensboro to Danville Railroad in 1865, toward the very end of the civil war.
If we ever are tempted to think that politics is a new invention, it had everything o do with the plans for the eventual railroad construction in NC. When first approved the NCRR contained only east west lines, there being fear that lines extending north into Virginia would cause piedmont goods to travel north or south and bypass the eastern NC ports.
Bu the reality of the Civil War finally prevailed, as there was an intense need for a line connecting the Virginia and North Caroline rail systems. And so the Confederate government approved construction of the Greensboro to Danville railroad, which some believe extended the war for several months by keeping Lee’s army supplied in Richmond.
The Greensboro to Danville line was completed in 1865, and later rebuilt and modernized. It passed through the community inhabited by the Brown and many other families. A station was built at the present intersection of Highway 150 and the railroad just after the Civil War ended.
Anyway, traveling on the railroad’s course north of Greensboro, Browns Summit is clearly on a high spot topographically. The intersection of the railroad line and highway 150 is just over 800 feet, though parts of the community surrounding the intersection are as high as 840 feet. Interestingly much of Highway 150 running eastward and westward from Browns Summit follows a ridge, such that wherever the railroad would have crossed would have been a summit of some kind!
So, when the post office was established this community on the summit of the railroad line was named for one of its funding members, and given the name “Browns Summit.” Given that most everyone in the immediate community calls it “Brown Summit,” a petition was submitted to the County Panning Board, and then to CountyCommissioners, to have the name changed, all of which was approved, but the post office did not agree to make the change.
For more information on the community of Brown(s) Summit, check out The Village of Brown Summit by Robert L. Phillips, available in the Greensboro Public Library.