What is it like living at the gates of “Hell’s Gate”

Story by Steve Nussbaum | Photos by Erika Carter

A person and person sitting on chairs by a pool

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Darrell and Margaret Hawkins (pictured here) love sitting by their lakeside pool  

waving to all the boaters going in and out of Hell’s Gate.

Every issue of PK Magazine features an iconic lake home – one that boaters drive by and wonder what it looks like inside – and this issue focuses on a beautiful rustic structure built on the edge of Hell’s Gate.

The featured home clocks in at more than 8,000 square feet of luxury living, and everyone who’s been to Hell’s Gate has seen it. It’s owned by Darrell and Margaret Hawkins and sits at the easternmost point as boats enter Hell’s Gate.

The home can best be described as “rustic Texas modern,” resembling the appearance of the famous Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake. Every room is filled with unique architectural features, and there isn’t a simple or plain room in the house.

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Pictured above, PK homeowners, Margaret and Darrell Hawkins.

The rustic design of the home fits in naturally with the “Hell’s Gate” location.

The Hawkins’ blended family includes five children and 10 grandchildren spread out from Amarillo to the Fort Worth area. The couple spends about half their time at their residence in Fort Worth, and the other half at their Possum Kingdom Lake home.

Hawkins was part owner of a plumbing supply business that sold in 2012, the same year that he and his wife decided to buy their own PK property. The couple considered many prospects, but this particular property was a little larger and more expensive than what they initially wanted.

His negotiating advantage vanished, however, when his wife saw the view from inside the house.

“Margaret walked into the master bathroom and saw the huge picture window with a front-row view of Hell’s Gate, and she screamed in excitement,” Hawkins said.

On the first weekend after buying the property, as they sat on the patio overlooking a beautiful PK sunset, Hawkins recalled how his wife started crying tears of joy over their new home.

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Guests enter the home on the second level and are immediately greeted with the stunning lake views and soaring ceilings of the structure’s great room. The huge, aged wooden beams are believed to have come from a railroad trestle in Salt Lake City, Utah, and their size and character emphasize the home’s rustic design. A kitchen with a large island

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The great room is anchored by a massive stone fireplace and huge gourmet kitchen, and off the kitchen is a large laundry room with two sets of high-capacity washers and dryers. A large side-by-side commercial refrigerator space for extra storage is there, too, and is a definite need for a home that was built for entertaining visitors.

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Part of the home’s unique character also comes from its collection of large antique doors. No two are alike, and they all add to the incredible design.

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The master bedroom is on the main level and features a 180-degree view of the lake and Hell’s Gate. The focal point of its master bathroom is the huge picture window over the sink area that presents guests with a spectacular bird’s-eye view of Hells Gate.

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Downstairs features a family room and a large bunkroom for the couple’s grandchildren. The house has four bedrooms and a bunkroom in all, with each of them sporting an en suite bathroom.

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The lower level the home has two other unique rooms. The first is a huge wine cellar that doubles as a safe room, and it can hold 1,500 bottles of wine at an ideal 56 degrees. 

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Adjacent to that space is a poker/game room, complete with a custom-made, leather-topped poker table made by an artist in the Fort Worth Stockyards that features the brands of many famous Texas ranches. The feet on the table are carved wooden legs in the design of western cowboy boots.

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As impressive as the indoor space is, the outdoors area is just as incredible. The top level of the home feature huge patios that run along the entire home. Hawkins said he enjoys cooking, and for that reason the home’s outdoor kitchen features a smoker, gas grill, pellet grill and commercial-grade flattop cooking surface.

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The Hawkins agreed that it’s the outdoor living that they enjoy the most. They both said they love beautiful fall days when they can spend their whole time outside or down at the dock fishing.

Wrapped around the side of the home is the lounging pool that is a stone’s throw from the lake. Margaret Hawkins and her friends enjoy lounging there next to the cooling waterfall, watching and waving at all the people entering and leaving Hell’s Gate.

A unique safety feature of the home is a water pump with a 400-foot firehose attached, and having that on site saved the home during the devastating 2011 wildfires. In fact, the Hawkins aren’t sure they could insure their home if it wasn’t for this practical amenity.

The Hawkins said they love the peace and quiet of the lake, but since their home was built for entertainment, their children and grandchildren visit quite often. Their residence has been the site of numerous family reunions, a New Year’s Eve party, two bachelorette parties, a bachelor party and an engagement, and the dock is decked out in flags from all their children’s universities.

This spectacular home is one of the many iconic structures located on Possum Kingdom Lake, and the Hawkins look forward to making many more wonderful family memories there.