There is just something about a building with history that anchors you to a sense of place. You feel this sitting in the sunlit courtyard of PublicHouse in downtown Springfield. The floors are worn smooth by generations of rustling feet, and flowers pop up in little pocket gardens along the old stone walls. Brightly colored signs stand out nicely against the old stone building and point the way to eateries, a whiskey bar, the sunlight-drenched back lawn, and the artfully decorated main beer hall. Painted sidewalk art swirls around your feet as you walk into a courtyard large enough to invite a sense of community while also sheltering small conversations among tables.
Tucked away just off Main Street, PublicHouse stands as a representation of both Springfield’s history and its future. In fact, it was the sense of place and the opportunity to cultivate community that first drew Colby Phillips and Patrick Campbell to the space. The pair is the driving force behind some of the best pubs in the area. They started with The Tap and Growler in a small space with only one kitchen, then launched the Beergarden in Eugene, perfecting a style that leverages the unique sense of each place and cultivates an authentic experience for the community.
When the opportunity to tackle a larger project in the old Sprout building came up, Philips and Campbell knew it was the right move. “We didn’t need to have another pub,” Philips says. “It was such a great space, and we wanted to continue the tradition of this community gathering space. That was exciting for us.”
In the short time that the PublicHouse has been open, it has indeed become a gathering space. The beer hall, courtyard, and back lawn are often full of families and friends engaged in lively conversations. The Whiskey Library is the perfect spot for tucked-away conversations over delicious cocktails. There really does seem to be something for everyone. It’s intentionally family-friendly and pet-friendly outside, though the 21-and-over whiskey bar is for adults only. At every turn, the thoughtful intention to create a welcoming community hub is evident. “With all the different bars, food vendors, and multiple different seating areas, you could come every day for a week and have a different experience each day,” Phillips says.
The PublicHouse is carrying forward the ideas behind the Sprout incubator, partnering with and supporting a budding international food scene that surprises and delights. The main room off the courtyard is home to Shield Catering, Pig & Turnip, and La Granada. The three share a clean, bright, and large kitchen, but their menus highlight a diversity of culinary traditions. Further in, you’ll find Cascade BBQ, whose outdoor smoker sends tempting smells through the hallways, and 100 Mile Bakery, which feels like stepping through the doors of a bakery in the French countryside. The setup of this shared space makes you appreciate that you are supporting local businesses, especially while watching the proprietors lean against the counter and chat pleasantly with customers. “Sprout was going for being the hub of downtown Springfield, and we want to be that as well,” Philips says.
Looking around, it does feel like a hub for downtown Springfield, with a nod to the area’s history thanks to stained-glass windows reflecting the rich traditions of logging and drift boats on the McKenzie. More stained glass on the other windows beam modern, bright colors across the tables, creating a warmth that entices you to stay.
The PublicHouse feels both old and new, grounded in a sense of place that anchors it to Springfield’s history while rolling out a vibrancy that ties it to the growth and rejuvenation the area is experiencing. It’s no surprise that the PublicHouse has already accomplished what it set out to do. In only a few short months, it has become a gathering place for a whole community.
PublicHouse, 418 A St., Sun-Mon, 11 am-10 pm, 541/246-8511, publichousehub.com