interview by Juliet Grable | photos by Rob Kerr The Green Springs Inn, 18 winding miles southeast of Ashland, attracts locals, tourists and travelers with a touch of adventure in their souls. The knotty alpine-style restaurant fronts Highway 66, with an eight-room lodge close behind. Tucked back in the forest above the Keene Creek Canyon are nine solar-powered cabins, which owners Diarmuid McGuire and son Paddy McGuire built from lumber harvested and milled on-site. 1859 sat down with the elder McGuire to talk about the cabins, the business and what makes the Green Springs community so special.
How did you decide to use local lumber for your cabins? We looked at straw bale, cob and other alternative materials. But the resource that was right in front of us were these trees, some of which we had to take out for the road. If you stand in one of the cabins, the flooring and framing lumber probably came from a stump not 100 or 200 feet away. What were the benefits of doing this? The carbon footprint is infinitesimal compared to lumber that is harvested in one place, processed somewhere else and then transported to a lumberyard. When you buy wood from a lumberyard, you’re buying a lot of labor and energy. We replaced that labor with labor from our community. So the cabins became an opportunity to create local jobs. You and Paddy started building the cabins in 2008. How did the cabins evolve? You can walk through them and see how our thinking changed. The first two are more square, and the ceilings are really high. The second iteration, we added window walls and angled the rooms to expand the views. In the third iteration, Paddy squeezed a bunch of cost out of the design but kept all of the best qualities. How will you continue to grow the Green Springs Inn? We’d like to build some tiny cabins that are at a price point somewhere between our cabins and the rooms in the lodge. So far, we’ve built a tiny chicken coop that’s very successful. What’s so special about this area? A guest who stayed in one of our cabins recently saw a cougar and bear on the same day. There’s an elk herd that regularly passes through our property. These are the treasures we live with and we can share with the world.