For more than 30 years, the Clover/Lake Wylie Republican Women’s Club has been opening doors for young women in the community while opening doors to some of the area’s most spectacular homes. The club’s annual Lake Wylie Home and Garden Tour has provided over $40,000 in scholarship funds over the years, helping female graduates of Clover High School further their education.
Peggy Upchurch, longtime resident of River Hills in Lake Wylie and current president of the club, was one of the 12 charter members when the club began. “In 1985, there weren’t many civic organizations around. We really wanted to help young women, and wanted to offer them a ticket for success based on both need and performance,” Upchurch said.
The Home and Garden Tour proved to be a fundraising vehicle that was a winner for everyone. “River Hills was still a fairly new community back then,” Upchurch explained. “The home tour was a great way to showcase the community.” In later years, the tour expanded to include neighboring developments such as River Pointe, The Palisades, The Landing and other custom home communities on the lake.
Homes selected for the tours usually feature unique architecture, spectacular views, creative collections, or items of interest to the community. “Sometimes the homes belong to club members, but most often they belong to people outside of the club. Hosts are bi-partisan; it is really a community event that has no political affiliation,” said Bessie Meeks, the public relations liaison for the club.
In recent years, renovations have been spotlighted on the home tour. Many of the original homes in established neighborhoods were built in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and have undergone extensive makeovers. Including these homes on the tour has provided inspiration and ideas to other homeowners.
“We always try to include a good assortment of homes on the tour, with a variety of styles and age of home,” Upchurch said. “We’ll include new and gently loved homes on the tour.” Visitors can expect to see some of the most ultra-contemporary homes in the area, as well as residences steeped in tradition.
Beautiful art collections, artifacts gathered while traveling or living abroad, antique heirlooms and family treasures are always featured prominently on the home tours. To help the guests get the most out of the tour, as well as to provide security for the homeowners showcasing their homes, room-by-room “docents” are utilized to act as tour guides, sharing stories and information about the home and collections.
The tour, which is the sole fundraiser for the Women’s Club scholarship, has evolved over the years. “When we first started doing the tours, we’d usually have a box lunch available on the patio of one of the tour stops,” Meeks said. “Now, we have a luncheon at the River Hills Country Club.” With the growth in the club and the number of attendees, the buffet luncheon is well-suited to handle the crowds and gives everyone a chance to relax and visit in between tour stops.
A recent addition to the tour is the opportunity for business sponsorships. Landscapers, building contractors and other home-related businesses are invited to participate and showcase their services. Sponsorship fees from these partnerships help maximize the number and amount of scholarships available to the community.
Invitations and maps used to be hand drawn, with colorful illustrations and calligraphy. “That was before we had computers,” laughed Meeks. Tickets for this year’s show, scheduled for Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., are available the day of the tour at the entrance of River Hills. Advance tickets are available at The Cleaners in Lake Wylie, the Chamber of Commerce, or from club members.
Homes and gardens to be featured on the 2016 tour are still being finalized. “We will have one garden with award-winning daylilies and roses on the lake in River Hills,” said Meeks. Usually, there are six homes on the tour, and an additional garden or two. Visitors can start at any of the stops on the tour, and can follow the map at their leisure. The homes are all within a 15 minute radius of one another.
The Clover/Lake Wylie Republican Women’s Club meets monthly, holding a luncheon with various speakers and topics. The women’s membership is approaching 100 in number, with “associate memberships” offered to men.
For more information about this year’s Home and Garden Tour, business sponsorships, club activities or membership, contact Peggy Upchurch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 704-813-9828.