Build An Adirondack Cordwood Hideaway

Photograph courtesy of Rarilee Conway

Last year Rarilee Conway and her 22-year-old son, James, built a 22-foot octagonal cordwood vacation cabin in Wilmington. Their Adirondack Cordwood Cabin, as they call it, took six months to construct. They used posts and log ends from their property; lime putty mortar; and some 200 glass bottles, some decorated with stained glass that Rarilee had made. Their approach of creating an affordable, DIY and eco-friendly structure—including a living roof and a composting toilet—is a hit with earth-conscious visitors. “Everybody who has stayed in it has absolutely loved it,” says Rarilee. “It’s peaceful and calming and magical to be in it.”

The Conways learned how to construct the cordwood hideaway by enrolling in a workshop with cordwood-building guru Rob Roy at his Earthwood Building School, in West Chazy, just outside the Adirondacks. Roy has written 10 books on cordwood masonry and has taught the technique all over the world.

During her Earthwood workshop, says Rarilee, “Half of each day was spent in the classroom, the second part of the day working hands-on.” After that, as she and James worked on the cabin, Roy was available to answer questions.

This summer Rarilee and James will present a paper on their cordwood-building experience at the Continental Cordwood Conference, aka “CoCoCo,” July 9–10, hosted by Earthwood Building School at its West Chazy headquarters. The event, which draws cordwood experts, would-be builders and enthusiasts from across the world, includes three days of lectures, discussions, demos and tours of regional cordwood homes.

Register ahead for the Continental Cordwood Conference at Earthwood Building School’s website; Rob Roy’s books, workshops and other events are also listed.

For more cordwood inspiration, check out “Privy Amazing,” from our 2014 At Home in the Adirondacks issue.


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