We just returned from a spectacular weekend with friends Gary and Laurie Tipton at their beautiful home, “Tip’s Lodge” on Lake Cypress Springs.
I want a lake house. Full disclosure: I’m looking at Beacon Hill, too, on Cedar Creek Lake. It’s a little closer in, and the developer is creating one of the most magnificent lake communities in the south. Stay very tuned!
This was our second trip out to Cypress Springs and the Tipton spread, which is an amazing, four-year old lake home perfectly located in a gated sub-division called Pine Manor right on the lake. (I must dig out photos of the kitchen — the stove is about 14 feet long! Gary Tipton is Capital Distributing’s customer of the century!) The driving time is about 2 hours according to Google, but I think we clocked less than that Friday night because there was little traffic heading east on I-30. Since we are in the midst of a drought, the lake was kind of low, especially near the shoreline, but the great thing about Cypress Springs is that the lake is spring fed, so it tends to have more water than other Texas lakes even in these bone-dry seasons. Those springs also give you little jets of cool water when you are swimming.
A word about Texas lakes: when I first moved to Texas, I was surprised to learn that every lake in the state except for Lake Caddo (on the Louisiana border) is a man-made lake. What’s the deal? Texas, someone once told me, has great drainage. When you see geography with lots of natural lakes, that’s a sign of poor drainage. So to preserve water, Texas made its lakes, all 170 of them, by damning up, digging deeper in low spots, and filling in with water.
Cypress Springs sits in a heavily wooded area near Mt. Vernon, in a town called Scroggins. Trivia: Warren Buffet owns Dairy Queen, and the DQ franchise in Mt. Vernon there on I-30 is the third busiest DQ in the entire country! This is east Texas piney woods. The developers who dug the lake in the early 1970’s sold the timber that they had to clear cut, creating a spectacular space for water sports: boating, skiing, blobbing, and my favorite, jet skis. Lake Cypress Springs is like Aspen or Pebble Beach in this regard: many wealthy people live there — 90% of the homes are vacation homes — and thus the real estate never dips much, tends to hold its value.
“It’s a boutique lake,” says Gary Tipton. “There are only 3700 acres, so there are fewer houses around it.”
Which makes it more exclusive. And while realtors say prices dipped last year, you might find some bargains but few short sales or foreclosures here. This is a very social lake. The lake is serpentine-shaped, meaning you can see your neighbor’s home across the water, almost like living on a river. We waved to auto dealer Rusty Wallis and his family, they pulled their boat on up and came over for a drink. That’s how life flows at Lake Cypress Springs. Gary, who was once a federal bank examiner, spent years on the road all over East Texas where he saw the prettiest towns and natural features of the region. The key to Cypress for him was the neat, pretty little towns nearby — places like Mt. Vernon, the home of Dallas football great Don Meredith, Scroggins and Winnsboro.
The Tiptons bought a house at Cypress in 2002. Gary says he spent two years looking at houses and locations on the lake and zeroing in on his specific desires in a lake house. At the time, he wanted at least 3500 feet but there were few large homes of that size available or even existing. Mt. Vernon Realtor Myra Marr finally found him a home that was not on the market — a Lewisville physician’s lake place, who actually had seller’s remorse when he realized his kids had grown up at the Cypress lake house. The Tipton’s bought it (quickly) because it was a double lot. The home had a stick foundation, so down it came to build the seven-bedroom plus spread we enjoy now with boat docks and outdoor kitchen plus fire pit.
“The secret is how beautiful it is out here during the winter months, especially in the fall, ” says Gary.
You may not go swimming or jet-skiing, but you can light a fire outside and just enjoy the air.
I need to get back there in September, I guess, to give you a full report!
Who has second homes on Lake Cypress Springs? Former CBS Channel 11 news anchor Tracy Rowlett and his family; auto dealer Rusty Wallis; John Wilson; Max Williams; Gil Besing of Cardinal Capital; Mike Rose (sells GulfStreams); Mark Andrews CEO Net IQ; Chris and Kelly McGuire (Cypress Equities); Marc Sparks, venture capitalist; Bob Mohr, real estate; Bobby Ray, home builder.
Waterfront restrictions: None (although it is a lease-hold property, meaning the county owns the land, and you lease it for a nominal fee)
Lookie at this beauty, reduced to $795,000. I think I’m in love!