Original Malabar mural

EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece was previously published at Richland Source in 2013.

LUCAS -- There isn’t much in history that comes back once it’s gone, but a painting from the past reappeared on a barn at Malabar Farm about 50 years after the original was destroyed.

When the Malabar Farm Foundation took over the farm after author Louis Bromfield’s death in 1956, the house, the barns, and all the outbuildings were given a uniform coat of white paint, obliterating the last surviving remnants of an old faded barn mural. 

Malabar mural

The architect who designed the Big House, Louis Lamoreaux, reminisced about the lost mural in 1968, saying “Bromfield knew it had been a longtime custom with Ohio barns to paint rustic murals on the barn doors.” 

Bromfield approached Lamoreaux about having the barn mural tradition continued at his farm, and asked for something “specifically not arty.” So, the architect found “one Shorty Myers, who had been employed painting so-called murals on the sides of nickelodeons.”

“The result was exactly what Bromfield wanted,” according to Lamoreaux, “the cows had concrete legs and the boxer dogs were frozen in place.”

More on the mural

Even during Bromfield’s lifetime the mural suffered various indignities from farm equipment, and one of the barn doors was splintered by an errant backhoe.

During the decades since, the farm became a State Park and the barn has had a couple different mural designs on the doors. The doors themselves had to be recreated after the barn burned down and was rebuilt in 1994. 

In 2013, when the Ohio Department of Natural Resources began to make major restorations to the Big House at Malabar Farm State Park, a volunteer effort has been made to restore the original mural design to the big barn.

Three retired art teachers, Tom Bachelder, Mark Summer, and Kathy Lowe gave new life to the old tradition and brought a piece of history back from the past.

Recommended for you