Malabar Farm State Park
Horses at the Maple Sugar Festival in 2007.
|Location||Monroe Township, Richland County, at 4050 Bromfield Road, Lucas, Ohio|
|Area||580.6 acres (235.0 ha)|
|Architectural style||Greek revival style|
|NRHP reference #||73001520|
|Added to NRHP||April 11, 1973|
Nestled in the hills of Pleasant Valley, Malabar Farm was built in 1939 by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield and was his home until his death in 1956. On May 21, 1945, Bromfield hosted Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall's wedding and honeymoon at Malabar Farm.
Bromfield grew up in Pleasant Valley. When he returned there as an adult, he wanted to buy an old farm—the Herring farm. Eventually, he bought the farm from Clement Herring in 1939. He also bought adjacent farms in 1940 and 1941. In all, he owned 595 acres of land. The Bromfield family moved to Pleasant Valley in 1939 and lived in the “Fleming house” until their “Big House” was built. Bromfield chose architect Louis Lamoreux of Mansfield to help him design and construct a Greek revival style home. The original Herring house was used as the center of the construction. The Big House was expanded from this focus point and made to look like sections had been added on over the years. Bromfield was constantly ordering changes to rooms and walls. Thus, the project was dragged out for 18 months.
The 32-room Western Reserve, where Bromfield wrote many of his books, attracted film stars, artists, politicians, writers, and conservationists annually. As many as 20,000 people visited the farm every year. Sunday tours alone attracted 100 to 200 people. The farm spread over 1000 acres of land. At one point, 200 acres were set aside for apple trees, but they ended up costing Bromfield money. So he got out of apple production. He also stopped his egg production, as well as his sheep and hog breeding. He chose to focus on beef and dairy. Additionally, Bromfield developed a technique known as conservation farming. This was based on grass farming, which produced large quantities of forage and pasture. Malabar Farm became a national model for sustainable agriculture.
In addition to this, Bromfield experimented with composting using manure from livestock on the farm. Square fields were changed to follow the lie of the land so as to discourage erosion. 140 acres were put aside for timber. In 1958, Bromfield's children gave the farm to a conservation foundation—Friends of the Land in lieu of debts Bromfield had incurred. In August 1972, the deed of Malabar Farm was accepted by the state of Ohio after the Louis Bromfield Malabar Farm Foundation—which had been operating the farm—faced foreclosure. In 1976, the farm became a state park. On April 4, 1993 a fire destroyed the main barn. In September 1994, 150 volunteers from the Timber Framers Guild of North America raised a new barn in resemblance of the original.
Hostelling International USA had operated a 19-bed youth hostel for years in a farmhouse that was acquired when Malabar Farm was given to the State of Ohio. This was closed in late 2017 by Hostelling International due to diminished public interest and use after running continuously since 1979. To date the building is unused.
Points of interest within the Park
Malabar Farm Inn
Malabar Farm Inn is a historic Stagecoach Inn built in 1820. The two-story brick building was restored as a restaurant, offering home-cooked dining. The Malabar Inn Restaurant closed in late 2018.
Just to the east of the restaurant lies Malabar Spring. In 1946, Louis Bromfield designed a roadside market stand that could use the spring to keep market items cool. Sporadically, visitors could purchase fresh, local produce at the market stand. Under various management philosophies at ODNR, sporadically, visitors could purchase fresh, local produce which is cooled by flowing spring water. The garden market ceased operation upon closure of the Malabar Inn Restaurant in 2018.
This authentic, rustic log-cabin style home was built in the 1940s by Bromfield's neighbor, Jim Pugh. The cabin was used to film a few of the opening scenes in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption.
The Ceely Rose House
The miller's house, mentioned in the Pleasant Valley collection of ghost stories, was the 19th Century home of a young, mentally challenged girl named Ceely Rose. In 1896, Ceely Rose murdered her three-person family by poisoning their food with arsenic. Annually in October, the Ceely Rose Play is performed in the park's timber frame barn, as part of a ghost story trilogy. The other two plays are Phoebe Wise and Louie. In 2014, an episode of Ghost Hunters was filmed at the Ceely Rose House. The episode, entitled Family Plot, aired on the SyFy channel. The Ghost Hunter's crew investigates claims of paranormal activities stemming from the 1896 triple murder. On this same episode, they also spend time inside Louis Bromfield's "Big House" at Malabar Farm, again trying to document reported paranormal activity.
Malabar Farm Events
Maple Sugaring Festival
A festival dedicated to early Ohio's winter tradition of making maple syrup. This festival takes place the first two weekends in March. During the sugaring off days, at the farm, learn about the process of harvesting sap from trees, boiling the liquid down to syrup, making candies, sugar, and other sweet treats. There are many activities and demonstrations available with free admission.
One of the state's largest outdoor craft shows. The festival includes various living history reenactments, including of the civil war era and buck-skinners.
Tours run seasonally.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
- Carter, John T. Louis Bromfield and the Malabar Farm Experience. Amereon: Mattituck, NY. 1995.
- Malabar Farm: The Dream of Louis Bromfield. ODNR Video Production. 1995.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2010-05-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Malabar Farm State Park Official Site
- Malabar Farm Foundation
- Malabar Farm Hostel
- Mohican State Park Official Site
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