Restoring Grayson Springs Inn

Dear neighbors,

Today, I’m writing to you to share the beginning of a story that I hope will be deeply meaningful to us both. You’ve likely passed the gate of the old Grayson Springs Resort, noticed the historic Inn across the field, and wondered about the story of the place. Many of you have spent time on the grounds at the weddings, re-enactments, political events and all-day-singings that Grayson Springs was once known for.

I grew up on the border of the Grayson Springs property, where the Barretts, Greens, and Logsdons have lived for seven generations. We share a special connection to the Inn, where my grandmother Helen lived as a child and later worked as a waitress. 70 years later, my husband Joe and I were married there under an oak tree.

Opened in 1824, Grayson Springs operated as a renowned mineral springs resort for more than a century. Once one of the most popular social destinations in the South, guests from all over the world traveled to experience the healing waters, natural beauty, and fine accommodations of the resort. In the 20th century, the property briefly became a store, post-office, and residence before being restored in the ‘50s by Mark Nevils, who long ago returned to his hometown to renovate the Inn and restaurant.

He’s not the only one who felt called back home by Grayson Springs. It is the kind of extraordinary place that calls out to you. The day I met Joe nine years ago, I told him about my dream to reopen Grayson Springs Inn. I’ve spent the past decade working across the country on economic and community development strategies to reinvigorate small town America in preparation for this work at home. In 2020, Joe and I began a relationship with the daughter of Mark Nevills. Two years later, a group of 11 of us purchased the property.

This place has such an important history to our community, but it’s been silent for many years. As the resort’s bicentennial approaches, we want to mark the occasion by restoring the Inn, preserving the surrounding hundred-acre woodlands, and reopening the doors. It will once again be a place to gather, share a meal, enjoy a performance, or celebrate a milestone.

The new Grayson Springs owners are an amazing team of chefs, artists, farmers, and educators with decades of expertise in business, hospitality, agriculture, education, community and economic development, and the military. Half of the team members are rooted to Grayson County, and all reside within Kentucky.

We can’t do it without you, neighbors. We also wouldn’t want to. Grayson County’s music, stories, traditions, landscape, and people are at the heart of our plan. By drawing on what’s special about this place, we plan to preserve Grayson Springs while celebrating and strengthening our community, culture, economy, and environment.

There’s a lot of work to be done. Over the coming years, we’ll raise funds to restore the historic Inn and preserve the hundred-acre wetlands and woodlands for future generations. Along the way, we’ll host events, fairs, dances, concerts, and more to uplift Kentucky’s rich arts, culture, and foodways in a way that honors and reflects our community and promotes opportunities for the region. When we’re successful, we’ll develop a business to sustain the property, so that more people will be able to make a living here by doing what they love, and more people will feel that their involvement in the community is essential to the future of this place.

I know that many of you share the dream to restore Grayson Springs. This letter is an invitation to join us in a project that will help you to not only restore an important part of our past, but to connect more deeply with your neighbors and place to shape a better future.

We’ll need donations of money or materials, and we’ll need skilled volunteers to help preserve the Inn, wetlands, trails, and gardens. If you have Grayson Springs stories, photos, video, ephemera, etc, we’d love to hear about it. Start the conversation at

If you look through the resort ledgers dating back to the 1820s, you could probably find familiar names of your people who came to this place. We want you to build a special relationship with this place, too. We can’t wait to hear from you.


Savannah Barrett with GSI partners

Carl Filip, Loretta Filip, Matthew Filip, Joe Manning, Daniel Martin Moore, Christy O’Connell, Damaris Phillips, Sarah Thrall, Darrick Wood, and Richard Young

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