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Open Season

photography by Jean Allsopp

Russell Cabins are some of the most coveted pieces of property on Lake Martin. Available only as a long-term lease (if you are lucky enough to get one), the simple structures have served up summer fun for generations. Now, Russell Lands has created a new neighborhood offering the same laid-back feel. Based on the cabins at Nichols Cove designed by Bobby McAlpine, these “Russell Cabins at the Ridge” offer all the good parts of a fine day in a cabin at the lake.

    Bobby McAlpine designed the cabins at Nichols Cove. “These type cabins are the perfect in-between house for people that don’t want something so polished at The Ridge, or something so primitive as the original Russell cabin,” Chris Hastings says of his own place at the lake.
     Designed for community, the open floorplan looks upon a screened porch that stretches the length of the house. A bank of windows and a window set high in the lakefront wall filter light in to the wood clad interior. Three bedrooms and two baths extend from this central living/dining/kitchen space. A ladder reaches to a sleeping loft.

When Russell lands started Talking about the idea of developing new Russell Cabins, they asked Bobby McAlpine to design a few homes on Nichols Cove. Rendered in the spirit of the primitive originals, Bobby kept the homes modest in scale, rustic in feel, and added plenty of porches. Like the original 1936 Russell Cabins, they were available for lease only—but when the lease was up, Russell Lands decided to sell. Renters Idie and Chris Hastings jumped at the opportunity. “We had just opened SpringHouse and wanted a place to stay when we came down,” Chris says. “We loved it so much we decided to stay.” Now Lake Martin is as much a part of the Hastings life as their Birmingham restaurant, Hot and Hot. And with so many fires burning, a minimum 70-hour work week, and Chris’ recent win in “Iron Chef America,” Chris says this is the perfect place to get away. “I get here and decompress immediately. It only takes an hour and a half door to door.”

In the couple’s house, the simple pleasures are many. Chris hosts “Turkey Camp” with friends and family every spring and memories of the good times are abundant in photos, feathers, and hunting stories.

    “Plans for the new Russell cabins are all focused on the lake. Screened porches are a big part of them. That’s what the original cabins are known for.” — Roger Holliday,
Vice President Russell Lands

The Hastings’ love of the place is also evident in their lake rituals: rocking on the front porch, picking wildflowers, and hosting gatherings around the firepit and dining table Chris inherited from his grandmother.

Though they are just putting the roads in for the new Russell Cabins, the site and house plans promises all the things evident in Nichols Cove. Russell Lands worked with a team of architects to translate this vision to their new development. “These plans came directly out of Nichols Cove,” says Russell Lands Vice President Roger Holliday. “People love the old cabins, but these offer all of the modern conveniences. Some of the old cabins don’t even have air conditioning.”

The first phase of the neighborhood offers 21 lots ranging in size from one to four acres. Six plans are available for buyers to choose from. All of the houses feature screened porches—something Roger says the original Russell Cabins are known for. “They’re all about that great view and enjoying the lake.”

RussellLandsOnLakeMartin.com • 256.215.7011

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