MONETA (WSLS10)-- If you've ever wondered what some of the most beautiful houses on Smith Mountain Lake look like on the inside-- this is your chance. This weekend, eight homes will be on full display to the public as part of the SML Charity Home tour that kicks off on Friday.
Each year, thousands of visitors from across the region and around the state head to Smith Mountain Lake to visit the homes. It's one of the only tours in existence that is accessible by either car or boat.
The Executive Chair of the tour, Denise Tuttle, says there are lots of different reasons this tour has such a big turnout.
"The homes are beautiful, they're interesting," she says. "If you're a remodeler, a do-it-yourselfer, like my husband, or if you're just a little nosey, like I am-- it's kind of fun to get into the houses and see what people have done."
Rick and Debbie Cocrane, the owners of a home that WSLS10 visited this week, say they've been visiting Smith Mountain Lake for more than a decade. When they decided they were ready to retire to the area-- they used their knowledge from past tours to build the home of their dreams.
"We've been coming to the tour for about 15 years and while everyone else was looking through the homes, I was busy writing down the features I wanted in my own home," says Rick. "The house we have is a consolidation of all of the best features of the last 15 years of home tours."
If you want to see their home in person, it's stop number four on the SML Charity Home tour and is paired up with the Agape Center as its designated charity.
Over the past 26 years, the home tour has raised nearly $4 million for the local charities. Last year, each charity raised about $23,000.
"For our charity, the Agape Center, that represents 25% of its operating budget," explains Rick. "So knowing where that money is going and all of the impact it's having makes it worth all of the effort to get the house ready for this year's guests."
While there's a huge focus on the charities, there's also a big emphasis on the uniqueness of each individual home. Each house tells the story of the family that lives inside.
"We're sharing a little of our story," says Debbie. "How we came about building the home, our three children and there are pieces of our story throughout the house."
The tour kicks off Friday morning and will run through Sunday rain or shine. You can find out more about the tour, including directions to each home and how to purchase tickets here. Tickets are also available at the SML Visitor's center and at each of the homes.
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