Idyllically located in the village of Fontana, along the southern shore of Geneva Lake, is a unique gated community known as Abbey Springs. Comprised of 320 wooded and rolling acres, Abbey Springs includes lake access and resort amenities, including an 18-hole golf course, casual and fine dining, a workout facility, indoor and outdoor pools, and tennis courts.
Alongside the property, a stone wall remains, a reminder of the days when the property served as the summer home of Edward E. Ayer, of Harvard, Illinois, who made his fortune selling lumber to railroad companies for railroad ties. Thirty years after a church group acquired the property from Ayer’s daughter, the lakefront jewel changed hands again and was reborn as Abbey Springs in 1971.
From its inception, this “little piece of paradise,” as Clubhouse Manager Kinda Schinto describes it, has focused on family and has served as a gather place for multiple generations to gather and make memories.
Homes for Every Budget
Abbey Springs offers an array of housing options for buyers. Condo prices begin at $150,000, and townhomes and single-family homes are at price points that range up to $900,000. A handful of lots also remain for new construction. Homeownership in Abbey Springs includes the benefit of a community-wide maintenance crew that keeps the grounds beautifully landscaped, a 24-hour front gate, and a security detail that monitors homes when owners are away.
It’s not unusual for homeowners to fall in love with the community and purchase a condo first, then gradually move up the property ladder to a larger residence. Roughly 650 to 700 people currently live in the community, but the fact that the community extends membership privileges to the unit owners’ dependents, such as their children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren, is certainly a compelling draw.
Recently, Nicole Weyrough, Abbey Springs’ Administrative Assistant, sat down with a couple who had just purchased a home. In outlining the community’s amenities, she explained how the couple’s grandchildren could take full advantage of the amenities. “They were ecstatic about everything they could give to their grandchildren while living here,” says Weyrough.
‘Everything’ includes a 650 foot sand beach and swimming pier with nearby basketball courts, sand volleyball, a bocce ball court, a “bags” court, and a patio where residents can gather around the fire pits and listen to bands perform on summer weekends.
The Recreation Center boasts a yoga studio, fitness center and sauna. While a game room with arcade games, a ping pong table, pool table, air hockey table and large-screen TV keeps the younger set occupied. Residents can swim in the outdoor pool or the Olympic-sized indoor pool, play tennis or pickleball, and eat in one of the community’s three restaurants.
The Clubhouse Grill, featuring casual dining, gives off a lodge vibe with its wood planked ceiling and windows that overlook the pools and golf course. For more elegant dining, the Yacht Club menu includes seafood and steaks, and the restaurant’s front windows offer a spectacular panoramic view of the lake.
For many, enjoying summer on Lake Geneva means boating on its clear waters. Abbey Springs homeowners have the ability to purchase a boat slip, buoy, dinghy dock, or canopy slip and arrange for offseason dry storage. The community owns three piers for slips, and also provides an In-and-Out Valet Service. For those who want to set sail on the lake without the responsibility of ownership, Abbey Springs offers 10, 15 or 20 use packages for the club-owned ski boat and pontoon boat.
Not only do Abbey Springs residents have the ability to enjoy access to Geneva Lake, but they also have access to the magnificent 18-hole course that was redesigned and renovated in 2012 and has earned a 4 ½ out of 5 star rating from Golf Digest. The course is comprised of 20 acres of lush fairways, carefully manicured greens, and wooded hillsides.
From the 17th tee, golfers are rewarded with a magnificent view of Geneva Lake below, behind which the dome of the Yerkes Observatory is visible. Houses peep through the changing leaves, which radiate gentle greens in the spring, and vibrant yellows and golds in the fall.
The Advantages of a Semi-Private Club
Abbey Springs is set up as a semi-private club, which offers a distinct advantage for homeowners. Members of the public may purchase golf, dining, and/or recreation memberships. Currently there are 150 golf members, 208 recreation members, and 406 dining members, all of whom contribute to the club’s revenue generation. Additional revenue that comes in from public membership helps keep owners’ monthly assessments low, currently ranging between $100 and $300, notes Schinto, who has just finished her third year as Clubhouse Manager.
Cherished Community Ties
The residents of Abbey Springs truly embrace the community with a sense of belonging that flows from one generation to the next. For example, Brian Hecht, of Downers Grove, Illinois, is getting ready to spend his 30th summer at Abbey Springs, since his parents purchased a townhome there in 1989. “I got to know kids from all over the place,” says Hecht of his childhood in Abbey Springs. “We all got along and hung out summer after summer and during holidays.” Now Hecht and his wife bring their three boys to that same townhome. “My own children are growing up here in the summertime with children of the people I grew up with,” Hecht says.
When Lincoln Park (Chicago) resident Alissa Wiedelman was 14 years old, her parents purchased a condo in Abbey Springs. “Some of my best friends are people I met at the lake,” she says. She and her husband Eric wanted to give their children, that same experience. “The other kids are so welcoming,” says Wiedelman. “In the city, [my children] don’t have the freedom they have here at Abbey Springs. It’s good, old-fashioned fun, and everybody watches out for each other.”
Like many others in the community, the Wiedelman and Hecht families embrace the friendships and close ties they have with other residents in the community, as well as with the Abbey Springs employees. “[The employees are] caring and compassionate people,” says Hecht. “It’s the same people year-in and year-out.” Wiedelman notes how the employees are always accommodating and truly go above and beyond their duties to make sure everyone is having a good time.
Causes for Celebration
Shared rituals strengthen family ties, and Abbey Springs offers a wealth of programs and activities to bring family members together year round, including: the Kentucky Derby Party, tennis and summer camps, the Fourth of July Golf Cart Parade and Festivities, Grandparents Week, golf and tennis tournaments, Kids’ movie nights, a Jamaican themed pool party, the Turkey Trot, as well as holiday buffets for Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, the Santa Brunch, and the New Year’s Day Pajama Brunch.
“We are extremely family oriented here,” says Schinto. One mom, she said, reported that her family no longer refers to the community as “Abbey Springs,” but instead simply calls the community “Happy Springs”!
The Next Step
Keefe Real Estate maintains an exclusive sales office in the Abbey Springs community. If you would like to learn more about the community and available properties, our experts are available to assist you. For inquiries on the community please contact Keefe Real Estate at 800-690-2292 or visit our website at www.keeferealestate.com/Abbey-Springs.
By: Susan W. Murray
Photography by: Matt Haas