I wrote last week about a little lake cabin Bobby McAlpine built for himself which became his watery haven.

After he sold it, the simple design continued to haunt his memory. This little wooden tender box held such great lessons and memories within, he couldn’t seem to shake its elemental echoes.  A simple witness, it spoke as clearly as a boy’s first tree house.

An idea hit him one day.  What would a small development of his beloved cabin be like?  He envisioned a series of the same boxy hut, with slight variations on the theme.  It would be the antithesis of most suburban neighborhoods where myriad shapes and styles clamor to be seen and heard. Recalling 1920s Boy Scout camps, a family of these cabins would live in quiet harmony, all in one voice.  But would individuals buy into the idea that they were living in a house that basically looked like the one next door?  The history of Lake Martin held that answer.  Old one story wooden houses from the 30s (known locally as Russell Lands cabins) populated the shoreline.  Hundreds of these long-term-rental shacks existed, lazily tucked in the woods, basically identical.  A long-standing waiting list existed for these little humble treasures, evidence enough that a large group of similar quiet souls were out there.

Bobby’s thoughts on the new development (dubbed “The Camp”):

“People forget what makes them fall in love with the lake in the first place.  They get a lake home, but they bring everything with them that they have in the suburbs. It becomes just another suburban lifestyle. What we’ve done is revisit an old idea — create a retreat setting with privacy, and beautiful views… The homes are similar — to the point where you can leave your ego at the door.”

“The Camp homes are built in such a way that their age cannot be tracked.  We avoid telltale modern products or trends.  In fact, the homes have no drywall, but are built completely from antique, old growth Canadian cedar.”

Property was secured in the Ridge development:  ten scenic lots spanning over two waterfront points.  Seven homes were eventually built – all found owners – five were decorated by Susan Ferrier of McAlpine Booth & Ferrier.  Even though the new occupants of The Camp gave up a bit of their  individuality in the development’s architectural continuity, each house (pictured below) is decorated in remarkably different styles.  Happily, these woodland nests began to shelter eggs of varying colors.

We’re very excited to announce these cabins, grown-up versions of Bobby’s first, will be the subject of a new book, authored by Bobby and Susan Ferrier, and published by our old friends at Rizzoli.  Like the lake, it will rise next spring.


Greg Tankersley, for McAlpine Tankersley Architecture


  1. Cabin is too humble a word to describe what you’ve created…again, another lovely e-mail. Thanks you. i treasure the visuals and the words…

  2. Susan S Clem says:

    Many a summer night did I spend in a Russel Land Cabin tucked into the trees next to Lake Martin. My favorite spot – the screened in porch where the sounds of the night and soft waves on the shore lulled me to sleep. This cabin captures the essence of that simplicity.
    Lovely! Thanks for sharing the vision.

  3. Jon Blunt, ASID says:

    If you can get a look like this, I don’t care that my neighbors house might “look” the same. It is what is in it that makes it a home and what amazing interiors you created as well.

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