We talk a lot about our cabins serving as retreats, as destinations for escaping the daily grind of the working world and embracing the quiet of nature. Leland’s Cabins recently was given an opportunity to build a forest hideaway not for a family, but for a local school.
All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler, Texas, encourages its students to engage in outdoor learning by exploring the forest and wildlife that exist on its 150-acre campus. Outdoor learning has been shown to decrease students’ stress levels while at the same time increase their motivation. And for All Saints, it’s a key approach to education.
“One of the very big areas of focus for us is authentic learning,” says Mike Cobb, head of school. Authentic learning involves students exploring and discussing concepts that involve real-world problems and engaging in ways that are relevant to them. In short: learning by doing. And the great outdoors is the perfect environment for it.
“We have an area that we wanted to make sure our students were enjoying,” explains Mike. It was the perfect place to put their outdoor learning center, that could allow students to study the natural world, not from a closed-off classroom but rather in a stream, under a tree, or among rocks and insects and ecosystems.
But what should such a learning environment look like? The school knew they didn’t want to cut down their precious trees to build a sterile space. In putting a learning center into their outdoor property, they wanted to respect the land and practice good stewardship of the acreage.
The Woods Feel
So they thought through what might work best and what they wanted the user-experience to be like. Meaning, how would a child experience it?
“We wanted it to feel like you’re leaving your place in the city and going to your cabin in the woods,” Mike says. In fact, “cabin in the woods” is the exact language they used in their planning. “When we started the project, we really were thinking very traditional,” says Mike. “We wanted to build a cabin in the woods.”
As their ideas progressed, All Saints needed to find a partner, a business they could team up with who understood how to build cabins in the woods. That’s where Leland’s comes in.
Leland’s Cabins became the natural cabin-builders to turn to. With our nine models to choose from, options for customization, and a variety of finishes on both the exterior and interior walls, floors, and roof, this made perfect sense.
But then some problems in All Saints’ plans cropped up. “We began to realize that to do a cabin in the woods, it would mess up the footprint of what we were actually trying to do,” Mike says. Building it onsite would change the nature of the space itself.
Not to worry. While other Texas log cabin businesses build onsite, Leland’s Cabins are prefab log cabins. Meaning we don’t drive construction trucks and tractors to the worksite to erect our cabins. We build them at our warehouse and move them to the exact spot you’ve selected. This minimizes the disruption to the environment — we don’t have to cut down trees to accommodate our equipment and crews — and to the people eager to use the cabin.
All Saints wanted to find a builder who could meet their desires for an outdoor learning center while at the same time maintain the integrity of their beautiful outdoor space. We understood right away. It’s what we do, with every cabin we build. So we showed Mike and his team examples of some of the previous places where we’ve put our cabins and how we were able to maintain the natural surroundings.
What did they decide? “It was a very quick answer for us,” says Mike.
“The quality of the Leland’s cabin is what we were really drawn to,” he explains. “We want to make sure that our students have wonderful facilities all across campus, and this had to be to that same standard. And they do that.”
Mike says the All Saints team had a few “out there” requests. “We had to make sure that this building was in the aesthetic integrity of our campus,” he says. “One of the things we’re known for is that we have bronze roofs on all of our buildings across our 150 acres.”
Bronze roof? No problem.
“They got a perfect match to all of our roofing, and our Leland’s cabin is a perfect match to our campus.”
A cabin in the woods with just the right natural look and aesthetic. That was a request Leland’s takes pride in fulfilling. It was clearly important to Mike and the All Saints officials that their nature center had a “woods feel” and didn’t stick out as something that didn’t belongs in the forest.
So Leland’s worked with the team to select the right wood for the interior walls, the floors, and the exterior. And we topped it off with that specialized bronze roof. All in a day’s work.
“All the things we thought were going to be really hard things for them to achieve,” says Mike, “they were able to overcome and do it with a smile on their face.”
We’re still smiling. Stop by our cabin supercenter in Grandview, the biggest cabin showroom in Texas if not the world. We’ll walk you through each one of our cabin models. And hopefully, you’ll leave with a smile on your face too.