12th Home and Garden Tour

Pry Family Quilt

Women’s Club Hosts 12th Home & Garden Tour

By Crystal Shelle

No matter what people say, most are a little bit nosey, or at the very least curious. Especially when they drive by a beautiful home and want to be able to see if the inside is as impeccably dressed as it is from the curbside.

Usually held every three years, friends of Hagerstown Women’s Club open their homes as a way to raise funds for the organization.

To celebrate, eight homes in Hagerstown and Boonsboro will open their doors to the curious as a way to raise money for the club for the 12th Women’s Club Home and Garden Tour. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at various locations (see below). Cost is $35 or $40 after June 1.

Included in this year’s tour are: Connie’s Cottage, 1401 Potomac Ave., Hagerstown; Bowman House – Boonsboro Pottery, 323 N. Main St., Boonsboro; Oakstone, 947 The Terrace, Hagerstown; Sukey’s Garden, 866 Frederick St., Hagerstown; Sweetbriar, 10224 Old National Pike, Hagerstown; Brightwood, on Blue Heron Lane, Hagerstown (shuttle from 14014 Marsh Pike); Holtzapfel House, 13011 Fountain Head Road, Hagerstown; and Women’s Club, 31 S. Prospect St., Hagerstown. For a description of the homes, parking instructions, and to purchase tickets online, visit https://womensclubhagerstown.org/house-and-garden-tour-2023/

Joyce Siwarski and Linda Hood, both from Hagerstown, are co-chairpeople for the Home and Garden Tour. Siwarski said the tour started about 30 years ago as a major fundraiser for the Women’s Club Foundation. The last tour raised $18,000; they hope to surpass that number this year.

The primary mission of the Women’s Club Foundation is “to provide safe and affordable housing for low-income women in Hagerstown. We raise money for our efforts by showcasing homes and gardens of Washington County residents who support our mission,” she said.

Hood said they expect 400 visitors for this year’s event. “We’re hoping for a good turnout because we haven’t done it for a while. But people are really anxious to get out and start doing things.”

The homes and gardens included on the tour are usually discovered by word of mouth.

“We always look for interesting properties around Washington County, which are so rich in architectural heritage,” Siwarski said. “We ask members for recommendations and then ask homeowners if they are willing to participate.  We are so fortunate to have many lovely homes and gardens in Washington County and to have homeowners who are willing to share with the community.”

Sukey Rankin and her husband, Robert, will open their home’s doors at 866 Frederick St., Hagerstown. She is a former elementary education teacher, who now works at Roostervane Gardens, and her husband is a retired funeral director. Both are supporters of nonprofits in the community, often doing fundraising events.

The Rankins moved to their 1920s typical four-square home in February 1980. This is the first time they’ve participated in the tour.

“But I have participated in the tour numerous times as a floral designer from Crossroads Garden Club by doing floral arrangements for homes on the tour and in the Women’s Club,” she said.

Some interesting things to notice about the Rankin home include the brick front porch which features a handcrafted porch railing made from redwood and clay pottery beads that were strung by hand.

Rankin said her backyard “is small and inviting.” She said it’s “created with woodsy Asian touches and lots of nooks and crannies to explore. You can ‘walk on the water,’ and talk to the fish or discover the various vignettes of hostas.”

Also, she said, Trekkies can find the Starship Enterprise and its crew. Nestled in the garden are metal adornments several of which were made by Rankin herself. There is also a small cottage garden tucked in beside the garage. And things such as herbs, a few veggies, and flowers live happily together. Beyond the garage is an alleyway garden with herbs, broom corn, perennials, and cutting gardens.  Most of the plants grown are used in floral arrangements that she’ll be making on the day of the tour.

Rankin has been a member of the Women’s Club for nearly 30 years.

“I originally joined so my son could take the dance class offered by the club,” she said. “But soon after I became involved in the Crossroads Garden Club and other activities. I am one of the members who help maintain the gardens and urns at the club.”

For Rankin, participating in the tour is about showcasing the Women’s Club itself.

“The goodwill and support that the club provides to the community are fantastic,” she said. “The low rent, clean, and safe housing that the club provides to women is an important endeavor of the club. Plus, the friendships and relationships that are made with Women’s Club members are incomparable.”

But taking on a tour like this takes many hands and many months. Siwarski said they have been working on the tour since last summer.

“Our club members cooperate fully to make the tour successful  — many hands are needed to pull something of this magnitude together,” Siwarski said. “We already have more than 100 members volunteering to lead committees, act as docents and ticket takers, and design the publicity campaign and materials. Behind the scenes we have members coordinating ticket sales, managing our web page, and much, much more.”

Hood said it takes several months to coordinate because they need to find the homes as well as see if the homeowners are willing to let strangers into their homes.

“So, I think that’s the challenging part and takes the longest,” she said.

But it’s that hard work and dedication that has made the home and garden tour a popular event every year.

“Who doesn’t love looking at beautiful homes and gardens on a late spring day? It is also heartening that the Women’s Club mission is so very well supported by the Hagerstown community,” Siwarski said. “This is truly a generous city, and many residents and businesspeople support our efforts through sponsorships and ticket purchases.”

Homeowners also enjoy participating as much as the visitors who take the tour, Hood said.

“The homeowners are very anxious and interested in talking to the guests that come through their home about what makes their home special, and I think they like the personal touch,” she said. “And then, I think there’s also the human curiosity that we all have about seeing behind somebody’s closed door.”

Hood said she’s hoping that they’ll be able to raise more than the last tour, especially because the Women’s Club has had some expenses this year.

“We’ve had extensive renovations done on our roof in the big room of the house for the Women’s Club, and it is costing us about $300,000 to repair that,” she said.

The Women’s Club, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, launched a capital campaign in November and money raised from the Home and Garden Club Tour will go toward that, Hood said.

Hood said the Home and Garden Tour also exposes the Women’s Club to those who might not be familiar with its purpose. To help educate visitors there will be docents at the Women’s Club who can tell them more about the organization.

“I think its main attribute is that it helps women who are underprivileged get settled and back on their feet again,” she said.

In addition to purchasing tickets online, tickets can be purchased in person at The Women’s Club office, 31 S. Prospect St., Hagerstown, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through June 7. For questions, call 301-739-0870 or email womensclubofhag@myactv.net.

Hagerstown Magazine