WACO, Texas (KWTX) – There’s a unique new sanctuary in central Texas that has just opened but is already awe-inspiring to locals, drawing travelers from countries as far away as Scotland and catching the attention of a national television show.
Live Oak Lake is a lakeside retreat on Spring Lake Road in Waco, just 10 minutes from downtown. It includes seven small but carefully designed one- to two-bedroom cabins ranging in size from 450 to 600 square feet.
The cabins are a lifelong dream of Isaac French, 25, who uses the craftsmanship and entrepreneurship he learned as a member of Homestead Heritage, an agricultural and artisanal Christian community outside of Waco.
“The dream behind it was to create a place in Waco, my hometown,” French said. “I figured since I’m in Texas you don’t see this often, and with Waco becoming a home design mecca and many coming here for Magnolia, I wanted to create something unique in these cabins that represented Waco and, really, the greater area.” Waco doesn’t have that.”
French grew up at Homestead Heritage until he was 11, when he moved his family to Idaho to help establish a community of sisters there.
He lived in Idaho for ten years before marrying his wife Helen and moving back to Waco in 2020.
His time in Idaho influenced his design.
“It’s modern Scandinavian architecture for the cabins, in particular,” French said. “It has a lot more impact in the Pacific Northwest.”
The situation was huge for the handyman whose grandfather helped build President George W. Bush’s home in the Crawford area.
French wanted to build the cabins close enough to town to make them convenient for locals and visitors to Magnolia Silos, but far enough from the hustle and bustle to feel secluded and surrounded by nature.
When the land on Spring Lake Road became available, French and his wife knew it was perfect.
“I’ve been collecting these ideas for a couple of years and the property came up for sale on Spring Lake Road last year and I knew the moment I saw it it was the right place.”
WATCH: Julie Hays’ full interview with developer Isaac French
The French built the small but luxurious cabins and expanded the lake in just 10 months, but it hasn’t come without challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was becoming increasingly difficult to build on a schedule of increasing material costs and labor shortages,” he said.
French also had an accident while working on the project.
“I had a bit of a setback at the end of November when I was packing everything and fell off a ladder and broke my pelvis. I’ve had a few different surgeries.”
French said that with the help of an amazing support team – and God – he healed quickly and the project stayed on time.
“We built the place in 10 months. It was an incredibly busy year.”
The cabins opened in January and social media influencers who discovered Live Oak Lake have praised them and helped draw visitors from far and wide.
“We’ve already had people from all over the world,” French said. “Our goal is to help make Waco a destination and we’re already seeing that, especially from the publicity we’ve received. Not just people coming through Waco, but more importantly, we want people to come to Waco so they can stay with us.”
Locals who have attended the retreat also love the convenient getaway.
“They are absolutely delighted with it. They say, “Oh my God. I had no idea this existed,” French said.
The booths will be featured on a national TV show this summer, but French is unable to reveal details of the show or the channel at this time.
He encourages you to book if you’re interested as dates fill up quickly. The developer said the retreat offers something for everyone between the cabins, hiking, fishing, unique design and proximity to Waco.
“The cabins have solid glass fronts, all sorts of widows, so it’s all about bringing the outside in,” French said.
“It’s been very fulfilling to see people experience, fall in love and truly appreciate what we’ve worked so hard to achieve.”
You can find out more by visiting liveoaklake.com.
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