Metro 360: Dawson Creek
BY MELISSA GEORGE BOWMAN – ALMetro360 Magazine
Just driving through the entrance lowers my blood pressure.
New Waters Realty Vice President and Broker, Jennifer Atkins, cannot count the number of times she hears that phrase about The Waters. The winding road surrounded by lakes and rolling countryside that leads into the Pike Road residential community seems to evoke a common sense of tranquility among both visitors and residents. “When you’re here you really connect with nature in a way that you can’t anywhere else” Atkins said. The Waters is not your typical neighborhood. Its natural beauty is just one reason around 400 families have chosen to call it home. They also love its unique sense of community. Developers designed it with that in mind. Walkability is a key feature as well as amenities like parks, recreational outlets and a town center with dining and shopping. Add a healthy dose of Southern charm and it is easy to see why The Waters continues attracting residents.
The Waters newest development has those essential elements plus a touching story. Known as Dawson Creek, it honors the memory of Wayne Dawson. Tucked away on a gorgeous plot of land a short distance from the hustle and bustle of I-85 is The Oaks Plantation. Dating from the early 1830s, today the site is a popular venue for weddings, receptions and special events. It is a piece of history that still stands in many ways thanks to Wayne Dawson.
In 1984 Dawson purchased The Oaks Plantation. At the time it did not resemble the picturesque place that today is a favorite choice of many brides. Already more than 150 years old, time had imposed wear and tear. Appreciating what a treasure it was, Dawson returned it to its former glory. He renovated and restored the home and embellished it with fine furnishings and antiques. Great care was also paid to the hundreds of acres of land, including the 1,500 that now make up Dawson Creek.
Knowing that today those grounds are where families are establishing homes and enjoying a close-knit community would make Dawson proud, according to his widow, Jeannine Dawson Svenson. “He really had great plans for the land but cancer just took him too soon,” she said. Dawson passed away in 1996. He was a man admired by many, which is why it is no surprise he is still fondly remembered more than 20 years later. “Wayne made everybody feel good. He was the type of man who would just draw everybody to him,” said Svenson. “Everybody loved Wayne and appreciated him and wanted to be around him.”
Svenson looks back on her life at The Oaks as a blessing. She has countless memories of fun times she shared with her husband and his sons, Michael and Peter. Their time together as a family was special and so were the times they opened their home to others. They entertained everyone from governors to hunters during deer season. They even hosted the entire congregation of Pike Road Baptist Church, including offering hayrides around the property. Similarly, more than a century earlier, The Oaks Plantation’s original owner, Alexander Carter, was known to entertain friends and family with buggy races around the grounds.
Living in a place with such history was a unique experience for Svenson. The land she and her family called home and that now Dawson Creek residents call home is not only significant because it pre-dates the Civil War, it also has ties to World War II. The property was so vast that it supported an airfield used for training by Allied pilots, including the Tuskegee Airmen. The joy Dawson experienced at The Oaks was something he wanted to share. Svenson remembers him brainstorming ways the land could be enjoyed by others. He envisioned a neighborhood with amenities like a village center and a church that would provide a sense of community to families living there. She still has copies of maps he made detailing his plans.
Knowing what the land meant to Dawson and that he intended it to be part of a greater community, it made perfect sense to developers to name the new neighborhood after him. “We did a lot of research and decided the contributions the Dawson family made bringing this area back were so important we wanted to somehow honor them,” Atkins said.
The Waters began construction on the first homes in Dawson Creek in October 2016. Atkins remembers how special it was one year later to show Svenson the new community.
“It was amazing. We had a model home at the time she visited and standing on the porch she had tears in her eyes,” she said. “We got the feeling we did the right thing because she was just so touched by it all.”
Svenson has special memories of that day as well. She said it warmed her heart to see families enjoying the land where she walked her dog, took adventurous three-wheeler rides with her husband and watched cows graze along rolling hills. Developers were able to maintain the integrity of that land because homes in The Waters are built with drilled piers, a type of foundation that goes deeper into the earth to provide greater stability.
“We don’t have to have a flat lot so we’re able to leave our land in the original state,” Atkins said. “That’s why when you look at pictures and see cows that were on that land it’s still the same piece of land.”
The result is breathtaking views that have attracted many new residents, including Bryan Darley. He and his wife, Joy, were visiting family in Montgomery and booked a VRBO stay in a Waters carriage house. It took one walk with his dog around the neighborhood to convince him that he and Joy could make a life there. Shortly after, they picked a lot, hired a contractor and were Dawson Creek residents 11 months later.
“We love living in the Dawson Creek area of The Waters as it is ‘Mayberry’ all over again,” he said. “We enjoy all the amenities and everyone is like family here.”
More amenities are coming. Plans are already underway for the next phase of Dawson Creek. “Phase II will have additional parks and some type of pavilion or activity center and playgrounds, so there’s still more to come on Dawson Creek,” Atkins said.
As the area continues to grow and attract more families, Svenson finds comfort knowing how happy this new community would have made her husband.
“He had such hopes for that land and when I see the church The Waters has built it reminds me of exactly what he would want,” she said. “I just appreciate the developers of The Waters honoring Wayne because he’s the one who had the vision for what it could be.”