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Friday, August 22, 2014

Malabar Farm

We left New York yesterday and drove on the 
country roads looking for antique stores.  We 
found one and it was closed.  Finally, by Cleveland 
we decided to get back on the interstate and get
to move a bit faster.  We ended up at Malabar Farm.
In this photo the main house is in the center right of
the photo, we spent the night around the corner in the
house that is in the bottom left of the photo, you can see 
it just behind a long farm building.

This month marked the 24th anniversary of 
our move to the Midwest and I have looked 
at the sign for Malabar Farm for all that time
as we took car trips between NJ and IN.
It just took me a while to actually visit.  I knew 
it was the home of an author and screenwriter
but mainly I knew it was where Bogie and Bacall
were married.  We had heard earlier in the week
that Lauren Bacall had passed away and I thought
if there was ever a perfect time to go, it was now.

Malabar Farm was the home of Louis Bromfield, a
Pulitzer prize winning author and later farmer. Bromfield
grew up in the area in central Ohio but went off to seek
fame and fortune.  He had lived in New York and gained
success and in the mid 20's he and his family took a trip
to France and ended up staying for 13 years.  In this time 
he was part of the Lost Generation of writers based in 
Paris after WWI.  He was wildly successful, in those years
 he was making $300 thousand dollars a year and 
anywhere that would have been a fortune but in post 
war France he could live VERY well.

In the late 30's, Bromfield knew another war was
brewing in Europe and decided to bring his family
home to Ohio.  They bought a few adjacent farms
and built on to an existing farmhouse to create his
dream house at Malabar Farm.  The house is much
like it was when his family lived here.  It is a nice,
large comfortable house.  It is the sort of home I 
would like to visit with lots of bookshelves and
comfy chairs.

This is Bromfield's office, the semi-circular desk
was his own design, on the outside are more 

There is also a bed for Bromfield and for his dog 
in the study.  Bromfield was an insomniac and it 
is said he would only sleep a few hours a night.
Perhaps this is why he could write so much.

The Master Bedroom is just next door.
It is a pretty light filled home.

So much is just how the family left it.  These 
magazines have Bromfield's address labels
on them.

And there are bedrooms, many, many bedrooms
because the Bromfield's had many, many guests.
Funny to think so many people from all over the
world would make it to a farmhouse in rural Ohio.
Locals said you never knew who you might see 
around the area.  One day the locals were surprised
to see James Cagney working at the Farm Stand.
I guess it was a nice break from being a celebrity.

This room didn't seem to be in keeping with
the rest of the decor of the house.  The large 
patterned wallpaper with a black background
seemed garish compared to everything else.
Perhaps it was in vogue at the time.

The most famous bedroom was the honeymoon 
room that was used when Bogie and Bacall spent
their honeymoon here.  Everyone always comments
because there were twin beds!  Bromfield and Bogie
were both connected to Hollywood but that was not 
how they knew each other.  They met in New York
when they were both unknown and had a life long

In a sunroom off the dining room is a cake showing
where Bogie and Bacall cut their wedding cake.

After touring the house we were quite hungry so
we went down the road to have lunch at the 
Malabar Inn.  The name Malabar comes from the
Malabar Hills in India.  Bromfield had visited India
and had considered buying a farm there because he
fell in love with the landscape of southern India.
Instead he ended up coming home to Ohio and 
became a farmer using innovative farming practices.

The food at the Inn was delicious.  This was our
appetizer of herbed goat cheese with crostini.

The area is known as Pleasant Valley ~ it is a 
fitting name.  Bromfield believed in organic and
self-sustaining farming methods. Some credit his
writings on farming on preventing a second dust
bowl in the United States.  He was said to be the
Man Who Had Everything ~ what a lovely thought.

Then it was time for us to hit a few antique stores 
and continue West to our American Homestead.


  1. It is so cool how many places you are getting to visit, locally, during your summer to "stay home!"

  2. You were in MY neck of the woods ... wish I had known. We live in Lexington, just south of Mansfield. I've been to Malabar Farm many times -- for hayrides, maple syrup gathering, touring the big house, etc. They play host to a very interesting set of shows every year based on local people who lived some rather interesting lives. They have a delicious BBQ dinner followed by a play which is held in the big barn. The air is crisp and cool, and the food smells divine on those evenings. So enjoyable.

    1. Amy, I didn't know that! If we ever go back for one of their special programs, I'll let you know. Maybe we could meet there.
      ~ Ellen

  3. Hello Ellen, We first connected back in Feb 2013 when you came across a vintage quilt that I posted that I thought might be a Dutch/Hungarian costume on the female images on the quilt. I've been going thru my computer files doing a little organizing and to refreshing my mind and realized I hadn't visited you blog in a long time! So, guess what I stumbled onto today, your blog about Louis Bromfield's Malabar Farm! I grew up very near there but wasn't aware of the palce until after I moved West and then discovered the book. Loved the book!