All About Richland

Historic Bromfield Landmark Suddenly Demolished By ODNR

18 Oct , 2021  

By 1812Blockhouse

An age-old question asks whether or not a tree falling in the woods makes noise if no one is around to hear it.

The same sort of thing might be asked about a historic landmark in southern Richland County, which was quickly and unceremoniously felled this past week without notice to the wider community.

The circa 1832 farmhouse is one uniquely tied to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, in that this farmhouse was the oldest of those on farms Bromfield purchased to create his Malabar Farm. The structure was referenced in his book Pleasant Valley.

Like the rest of the farm, the house was owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. There are numerous important landmarks dotting the 800,000 acres owned by ODNR, and in its 75 state parks and 24 state forests.

The loss of this building strongly suggests that none of those landmarks are guaranteed a future.

The house was used as recently as five years ago to house guests at a Malabar Farm function. Power was removed approximately two years ago. Interestingly, the ODNR action came at a time when the state park is without an acting manager or ranger.

Photos of the house and the aftermath of demolition can be seen below and were taken by Devon Hardwick of the Malabar Farm Foundation. Foundation members were not informed of the impending demolition.

The house was a four bay symmetrical brick structure of a type sometimes referred to as an “I house.” Two smaller windows were featured in both gable ends. There are a dwindling number of buildings from the first decades of Richland County which remain, and there are many houses of this style across Ohio and the Midwest which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Unlike many states, Ohio has no requirements for reviewing departmental actions impacting historic properties.

Photos: Devon Hardwick

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