Malabar Farm’s famous ‘Big House’ to undergo massive renovation, repair

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COLUMBUS – The 32-room “Big House” at Malabar Farm State Park in Richland County, once the home of novelist and conservationist Louis Bromfield, will undergo a $241,600 renovation, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The Big House will close for public tours starting February 2. However, the gift shop will remain open and other scheduled weekend activities will continue at the facility throughout February, March and April. The renovation is slated for completion by May 1.

“Louis Bromfield’s ‘Big House’ is one of Ohio’s treasured public landmarks,” said ODNR Director Sam Speck. “This renovation will help preserve its historic character and open its doors to an even greater number of visitors.”

Once the renovations are complete, the Big House will be handicap accessible from the rear entrance and on the first floor. Other planned improvements include installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system that will also humidify the interior of the structure.

In addition, plans call for the installation of shades on the home’s windows to protect furnishings and decor from damaging ultraviolet rays. Workers will also perform general cleaning, painting and repairs on the house during the winter and early spring.

As part of the renovation effort, Bromfield’s 1939 Steinway grand piano, which sounded the wedding march for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in May 1945, will be refinished and restored.

The Big House gift shop will remain open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

Other special seasonal events, including the park’s annual maple syrup festival, will be held as usual. Cross-country ski and sled rentals will continue at the facility on weekends, weather permitting.

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