Historic Trail Site #22
In the rolling countryside of Richland County, Louis Bromfield, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and dedicated conservationist, created his dream — Malabar Farm. In 1938, he purchased three worn-out farms and turned them into thriving farmland, now known collectively as Malabar Farm. It became a place of learning and a country retreat for Hollywood celebrities like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (who were married inside the Big House between the double staircase in 1945.) Inspired by his love of the land, Bromfield restored the rich fertility of the farmlands and preserved the woodlands' beauty.
"The Big House," as Bromfield fondly referred to his dwelling, began with a small existing farmhouse as a base and was enlarged into this 32-room home. The house, designed by both architect Louis Lamoreux and Bromfield, is a blend of Western Reserve architectural styles and was built to appear as if it had been added to over the years. Bromfield furnished the house predominantly in a French style with the original paintings and antiques collected during his world travels. The Big House was always full of local and out of town guests, and home to various pets, including a rowdy batch of boxer dogs.
After the release of Bromfield's widely successful book, Pleasant Valley, many people considered Malabar Farm to be an almost magical place. In this book, Bromfield wrote, "Perhaps one day it will belong to the state together with the hills, valleys, and woods of Malabar Farm." Bromfield's prophecy came true in August 1972, when the State of Ohio accepted the deed to Malabar Farm. The state pledged to preserve the beauty and ecological value of the farm.
Today, the Big House uses geothermal technology for heating, cooling, and humidification. This system helps preserve the contents of the house. Visitors can take guided tours of the Big House throughout the year to learn about the history and philosophies that originated at Malabar. There is a nominal fee for house tours. Contact the park for hours and fees.