About 80 miles northeast of Columbus in Lucas County lies the exotically named Malabar Farm. This 1000 acre farm was the home of writer Louis Bromfield. In his time, Bromfield was a Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author and screenplay writer. He was also an early environmentalist who advocated sustainable farming practices. Additionally, he was world-traveler (the farm is named after the coast of India) and a bit of a gadfly who hosted loads of celebrity friends at the farm. Apparently he made his guest work when they visited, and James Cagney liked to run the produce stand (produce stand sign is the first picture) when he was at the farm. Most famously, Bromfield and Malabar hosted Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s 1945 wedding. Because why wouldn’t Hollywood royalty want to get married on a gorgeous Ohio farm? 🙂
A friend’s master’s practicum involved archiving and cataloging 9 boxes of photos from Bromfield’s estate for OSU. For that friend’s birthday a few weeks ago, we went on a trip with him to tour the farm.
We toured the “Big House” and it was interesting. The tour was pretty chill and I felt like the access guests were given was unusual -we could pretty much poke around most of the house as we worked our way through with our knowledgeable guide. Built by Bromfield in the late 1930’s, the 32 room house is large but relatively casual. It was clearly intended to both be the main residence on a working farm and to host scores of guests.
The main entrance was the fanciest bit, here’s one of the double staircases in it:
Otherwise, it looked like a fairly modest, lived-in, well-loved place.
I especially enjoyed seeing Bromfield’s office. The giant semi-circular desk was pretty sweet:
Apparently, Bromfield’s neighbors weren’t quite sure what to think of the fact that the home was built with a bunch of bathrooms rather than having an outhouse! Here’s one of them, hard to imagine something so mundane was a sensation to the area farmers at the time.
Bromfield was well know for his love of his dogs, boxers. They were even featured in a liquor ad, the art for which was hanging in the office:
Other notable art found in the house included 2 Grandma Moses pieces. Also? His eldest daughter painted this:
After the house, we toured the barns and took a tractor-pulled tour of the farm, all of which was lovely.
The Lucas County Ohio Bicentennial Barn was located on the property:
This pretty much says it all:
An absolutely lovely day-trip!