children who attend the summer camps
on Maine’s many lakes and ponds often form
powerful attachments, bonds of innocence
and freedom that tend to bring them back to
camp, she decided to build her new summer
home just down the lakeshore.
“We have a history there,” says the cab-
ins’ owner, noting that her father was a coun-
selor at the camp for many years. “I loved the
camps, the lake, the whole area. It really gets
in your blood. Nancy got that.”
“Nancy” is Nancy Holwell, principal of
Nancy Holwell Architect and the designer
commissioned to fulfill her fellow New York-
er’s Maine-inspired dream.
Like many of the camps dotting the lake,
the cabins are located down a dirt road that
threads through thick woods to the water.
Unlike any other camps on Sebago, however,
the cabins are a unique cross between the
primitive and the postmodern, a procession of
four small barrel-roof cabins, high-style huts
really, that seem to rise out of the ground like
the surrounding rocks and trees.
“Everything we did was designed to make
the cabins blend in with what is around them,”
says Holwell, who worked with her firm’s project architect Kyle Page.
From the soft gray hues of their stone
bases to their silvery cedar walls, varnished
wooden beams, and patinated copper roofs,
the materials and palette of the little lakeside
cabins are all natural. The new cabins replaced
more modest buildings on the sloping prop-
erty. “There were four small wooden struc-
tures on the site,” says Holwell, explaining
how they were able to build in multiples. “We
got grandfathered in, and we were allowed to
increase the size by 30 percent.”
The cabins, built by Wright-Ryan Homes
of Portland, Maine, each have two bedrooms.
The owner’s cabin measures just 1, 100 square
feet, while the three attendant cabins, which
the interiors of the cabins (facing page) are as
much furnished with sunbeams, shadows, and
breezes as with tables, chairs, and sofas. Lift/roll
pocket doors (above right) open one corner of
each cabin to the outdoors, making the entire
living area function as a porch.
“The first thing I noticed,” says architect Nancy
Holwell of the four wooden cabins that once
stood on the site, “is that they all had little
8-by-8-foot porches on them, and everyone
tried to live on the porch. That became one of
the generating ideas of the building.”
In search of a way to allow small cabins with
restricted footprints to have porches, Holwell
came up with the idea of essentially turning the
cabins into porches by opening up one whole
corner to the elements. To accomplish this, she
used lift/roll doors by the Duratherm Window
Corp. of Vassalboro, Maine. Installed with
frameless corners and flush to the floor, the
design decision Cabin or Porch?
pocketing glass doors seem to disappear when
opened and provide three options, depending
on weather and insects.
“The doors allow the cabins to be all glass,
all screen, or all open,” says Holwell. “They
were an ideal way to open the living space to
outdoors, the lake, and the view.”
“We can open the sliding door,” says the
owner, “and the whole living room becomes an
But what about black flies and mosquitoes?
“My favorite time at the lake is September
and early October,” she says, “after everyone