about the makanda inn
The Makanda Inn is an eco-friendly retreat. It sits on 18 acres of lush woodland, in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, with the Drury Creek winding through it.
The design and building techniques used expressly fit the natural environment by using eco-friendly construction methods and sustainable materials bearing a low carbon footprint. Local and natural building materials such as straw bales for the walls, earthen plaster, recycled plastic roofing materials and reclaimed wood are integrated throughout the Inn.
About the Inn
The architectural design captures your imagination as you enter the building. Natural stone steps transitioning to wooden steps bring you onto the wrap-around porch with natural cedar posts.
As you enter through the custom handcrafted door onto the second-floor mezzanine you will immediately be swept away by the vastness of the two-story space. The 32-foot stone chimney and knotty pine ceiling lead your eye to the large copper sunburst light fixture overhead.
About the Cottages
Added in 2012, the Cottage were designed for those seeking a cabin retreat so popular in the Shawnee National Forest.
The goal was to build small cottages that showcase the beauty, functionality, and simplicity of natural materials – including clay, straw, sand, and wood. These materials are in abundance throughout much of this country and particularly in Southern Illinois. Much of the material used in this project is local and sustainable. Here are some of our favorite features:
- Living Roof – the living roof on this cottage is an extensive design – meaning it has a rather thin layer of growing material (approximately 6-8”). The roof structure is composed of: (1) 2×6 tongue and groove decking that you see from the inside as it also serves as the interior ceiling upstairs, (2) one-inch rigid foam insulation, (3) ¾ inch plywood, (4) 60 mil EPDM waterproof membrane, (5) Platon membrane (for drainage and root barrier), (6) recycled carpet padding, (7) growing medium which is made up of mulch, mushroom compost, topsoil and perlite. We are currently letting it go wild and intend to begin planting appropriate native species next spring.
- Stairs – have you ever seen stairs like this before? The stairs are truly one-of-a-kind. They are designed simply as a stack of wooden blocks supported only by the blocks below with a metal rod threaded through each to maintain the proper alignment. Some of the steps are locked-in to the adjacent walls. Each step is composed of two solid timbers bolted together. The timber is locally reclaimed pine from Nature’s Creation (Makanda). Kali Soukup was the local artist who built the stairs in both the Indigo and Sienna cottages.
- The Bed – as with the suites in the main lodge, the Indigo & Sienna Cottages were designed from the bed outward. The primary objective was to create a bedroom where the guest could enjoy the fabulous view of the woods while sitting comfortably in bed, so we put the foot of the bed right up against the eight-foot picture window. The headboard was designed to make it aesthetically pleasing from either side and the bench provides stability for the large Black Walnut slab while also serving as a convenient sitting place.
- Sassafras Paneling – this beautiful wood came from across the river in Missouri. It was planed sanded and installed with the careful guidance of Paul Frank of Front Porch Construction. The planks are 1-inch thick with widths ranging from four to twelve inches.
- Mosaic Tile Backsplash – this artwork found in the Indigo & Sienna Cottages is a great addition to an otherwise simple kitchenette. Shauna Wellman created this wonderful piece of art using scrap tile, old broken dishes and whatever else she found for inspiration.
- Straw Bale Walls with Earthen Plaster Finish – yes, two of the outside walls upstairs are made of straw bales with an earthen plaster finish. These are full size (approximately 36x18x20) bales stacked, pinned and fastened together. The bales are covered in an earthen plaster made from clay, sand, straw, and mica. These walls provide both excellent insulation as well as thermal mass.
- The Size – we wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to make a small space both functional and beautiful. I don’t think we wasted any room in this cottage. Each floor is about 15-feet by 15-feet – approximately 450 square feet in total.R
What Makes Makanda Inn an Eco-friendly Sustainable Development?
Makanda Inn is Southern Illinois’ most energy efficient small retreat of its kind. Both high and low-tech methods for minimizing its impact on the environment were used in construction and are still maintained today. Some of the features include:
- Exterior straw bale walls above grade for great sound insulation and unparalleled energy efficiency.
- The stone chimney is for the masonry mass heater that burns at very high heat to reduce emissions using the most renewable resource on the property – wood.
- Many of the building materials are re-purposed, including roofing materials and doors.
- The Sanyo ECO-i high-efficiency heat pump heating and cooling system include thermostats for each suite so guests can maintain a temperature that is right for them.
The Inn is also proud to feature the work of fellow artisans, such as handcrafted furniture from Kyle Kinser, local wood pieces supplied by Nature’s Creations in Makanda, Enormous Copper Sun made by Dave Dardis, “The Rainmaker,” custom-crafted door and woodwork from Paul Frank and Kali, woodwork from Andy Kinser, photos from author “Mushroom” Joe McFarland and many more.
About the Owners
Meet Greg and Shauna Wellman
Greg first visited the Shawnee Forest in the seventies as part of an Outward-Bound trip. While studying aviation management and flight at Southern Illinois University he spent weekends hiking and rock climbing in Giant City and surrounding woods. Over the past 25 years he has had a passion for, and has refined his skills in, natural building and sustainable development. Years later, while teaching in the Aviation Department at SIU, Greg found 18 acres available. At that point Greg decided to follow his dream to develop a sustainable resort.
Shauna has worked in the Special Education field for many years. Having a special needs child, she learned sign language and became a paraprofessional Interpretive Aide. Raising six children kept her very busy. In her spare time she enjoys working in the arts, specifically, stained glass, mosaics (as featured in Sienna and Indigo cottages) and tie dye clothing and textiles. Shauna likes to keep active by gardening around the Inn, hiking at Giant City, or riding the Gator down to the Boardwalk for a little local shopping.
Greg and Shauna have put a lot of effort in making the Makanda Inn an inviting, comfortable and beautiful place for guests to relax and enjoy all the adventure that southern Illinois has to offer. They particularly like hiking the local trails, visiting the local wineries and breweries, and hanging out with their friends in Makanda and surrounding area.