“The Reserve was brought to life by an exceptional group of adventurous souls who embraced our efforts and ideals and made it their home. Our members have created a strong sense of community that is both unique and evident to all… and surely why we chose to live here.”
—Buddy and Elizabeth Thompson, Reserve Founding Members since 2000
Buddy Thompson and Dean Ricker began a search in the late ‘90s for lakefront property to enjoy with their friends and families. Upon discovering the land that would later become The Reserve at Lake Keowee, Thompson and Ricker were struck by its beauty and sensed right away that this special place was meant to be shared. Within a short time, the two men had introduced more than fifty other families to the area and, together, the founding families formed the original investment partnership.
“We knew people would be drawn to this beautiful lake and mountain setting. So we wanted it to be spectacular,” reflect Dean and Barbara Ricker.
And so, the search began for a developer, to work alongside the founding families to transform ideas into an ideal lakefront community, expertly and responsibly. In the fall of 1999, Jay Nexsen and Chuck Pigg paid their first visit to the property on behalf of Greenwood Communities and Resorts, and stood upon a bluff that offered a sweeping view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the inviting waters of Lake Keowee. They shared ideas. They visualized a lakeside retreat that would attract hundreds of likeminded families—those in search of an ideal recreational retreat that offered nature and amenities at their finest. Together, they invested in a vision for this place that came to be called The Reserve at Lake Keowee.
“For most of us, it was not so much a financial investment as it was an emotional one,” Buddy Thompson explains. “This vision was made real by an outstanding team of land planners, engineers, architects and craftsmen all expertly led by Greenwood.”
In the ten years since, an award-winning community has taken shape and a vision has come alive. The dirt paths worn by tractors and ATVs have been replaced with 35 miles of paved roads. The first families who roasted oysters over a small fire where the Hill House now stands share the seven-acre Great Lawn with more than 650 families from 30 different states and several countries at The Reserve’s signature events. The Reserve’s vision has been steadily validated by its maturity into a spirited, warm and active community that continues to charm.
A tale of two families | The Cummins and The Radfords
Two builders and their families, ten years apart in joining The Reserve, tell strikingly similar stories of a journey to find a special place for their second home, their discoveries of The Reserve, and what excites them about being here.
“We were pioneers,” Bobby and Carol Cummins explain. “It’s been a whole bunch of firsts for us.” The first full-time residents at The Reserve, Bobby and Carol chose one of the inaugural home sites available in 2000, built what they originally intended to be their second home, but soon moved from Atlanta after the home was completed.
“We came here every weekend for years, boated, sat on our dock, and watched roads go in, the golf course go up and the clubhouse open—all before anyone lived here! Great golf, a gorgeous, pristine lake that’s not overpopulated or crowded, an unlimited amount of activities—the two-hour drive was a small price to pay for this kind of beauty,” Carol notes.
Bobby went on to partner with fellow builder and Reserve resident Jeff Holder to construct The Reserve’s Guest House and is now one of the community’s Showcase Builders.
On what he’d define as the secret to The Reserve’s success, Bobby barely hesitates: “The developers have systematically underpromised and overdelivered. They had the foresight to build a strong foundation for this community and be prudent about its growth along the way.”
“People continue to come here for a combination of the aesthetics and the people,” the Cummins offered. And the Radfords, among The Reserve’s newest members, echo that sentiment through their own recent experience.
“We’d been planning on having a second home and had done a lot of shopping around, but we were never as confident as when we visited The Reserve this past fall,” goes the story of Kevin and Beth Radford, natives of West Virginia who became members in December. “This is one of the easiest big decisions we’ve ever made. It was a no-brainer.”
The Radfords, who have three children Sydney (19), Skylar (16) and Sutton (10), intend to eventually relocate permanently to The Reserve. They’ve already been down a second time to survey their homesite to begin the building process. Kevin, a commercial builder by trade, will be building the family’s lake home.
In speaking to the Cummins and Radfords, it was almost as if one could have finished the other’s sentences. What their stories show us is that, while on the one hand The Reserve has matured, grown and changed in many ways, on the other, many things—the time-honored things—remain the very same.
The Reserve’s defining difference is the spirit of its people.
From those who’ve been with The Reserve for a decade and beyond, to the families who are just beginning to build their memory banks here, it’s undeniable that the heart of The Reserve—that which separates it and, in the end, has become its competitive advantage over time—is its people. Its leadership. The staff. All of its residents. Each of its owners. Together, they resonate with that “special something” that can’t be taught… only felt, acknowledged, nurtured and appreciated by all who experience or are touched by The Reserve in some way.
“A spirited, vibrant community—that’s what sets us apart,” said Jay Nexsen, President of Greenwood and Reserve Member. “When we formed The Reserve, we already had a sense of how tight-knit we’d be. People simply feel that they belong here. You can’t really put your finger on it, but that’s what it is… this strong, completely natural sense of belonging. Above all, this is something to celebrate.”
From the strategically planned, timeless comfort of the amenities that feel as if “they’ve been here forever and wear well, like a good old shoe,” describes Chuck Pigg, to the know-your-neighbor sincerity that the residents share, The Reserve feels quite like that iconic place “where everybody knows your name.”
“The people made the difference,” Beth Radford states matter-of-factly. “We felt we could really be ourselves and let our hair down here. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, not pretentious in the slightest, so inquisitive and genuinely interested in us. You just don’t get that everywhere you go.”