‘Little House on the Prairie’ star Melissa Gilbert says her cabin once had ‘rotting deer heads’ and ‘porn’
Melissa Gilbert was eager to go “back to the prairie,” but it wouldn’t come easy.
The actress, who famously starred as Laura Ingalls Wilder in TV’s “Little House on the Prairie,” encountered a rustic cottage on 14 acres in the Catskill mountains of New York that needed plenty of work to be livable. The former child star was determined to make the space, now known as “The Cabbage,” her home away from Hollywood.
“[My husband] found this place on Zillow, and it looked cute in the pictures and the price was certainly right,” the 58-year-old told Next Avenue on Friday. “We went to take a look at it. From the outside, the house looked like it was carrying a lot of weight.
“Not literally sagging; it seemed like it was sort of sad. When we walked in the front door – I’ve smelled musty places, [but] I’ve never smelled anything like the smell that came from this house. It was overwhelming.
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Melissa Gilbert has written a new book, "Back to the Prairie."
“It was full of belongings from the previous owners,” she continued. “There were boxes of cereal in the pantry, shampoo and bars of soap in the shower and rotting deer heads on the walls. Every corner had something in it. Bottles of holy water everywhere, which I didn’t know if I want to understand. Then, in tearing it down and moving things around, we found porn, we found hidden bottles of booze – of course, to go with the holy water. Gotta have balance!”
Despite the property being “musty, stinky and crowded,” Gilbert was eager to make the seasonal hunting cabin livable year-round for her family.
“It didn’t even have heat,” she recalled. “That’s all changed. We have a boiler, we have steam heat, we put in a propane tank, we put in all new plumbing. And unbeknownst to us, [we finished] in the nick of time. We were in the house by Christmas of 2019. Who knew?”
Gilbert noted that she was mindful of her finances when it came to taking on the project.
Melissa Gilbert played Laura Ingalls Wilder in the beloved series.
(NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
“We live on a budget like [most] people do,” Gilbert explained. “We are gig workers. Neither one of us is in on a long-running series right now. I was – 50 years ago. I don’t know where people think that money’s gone. And the concept the outside world has of what residuals are is just so far from the reality. I mean, I just got a check for 20 cents. The stamp costs more! I’m not poo-pooing my experience on ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ but that salary is long gone.
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“It’s different from what I was accustomed to for a good chunk of my life, where I was reckless in my spending habits, because the assumption was that it would never go away, and then it started to go away,” she continued. “I have learned to be very mindful of my expenses and to prioritize what really matters. I thought I was doing that and then the pandemic hit, and then I realized what really matters. And it isn’t shoes.”
Gilbert has shared her journey in a new book, “Back to the Prairie: A Home Remade, A Life Rediscovered.” Gilbert recently told Fox News Digital she doesn’t miss Hollywood.
Actor Timothy Busfield and actress Melissa Gilbert tied the knot in 2013.
(Lars Niki/Getty Images for BAM)
“I don’t miss Hollywood,” she said. “I miss my relatives and friends in Los Angeles. I miss them terribly. I wish I could see them more often. I’m hoping that as things gradually open up and we don’t go backward, I’ll continue to have the freedom to go visit them when I need to. I was finally able to go see my mom late last summer. That was really impactful. I saw my kids and I saw my granddaughter in LA. I miss them. I miss my friends there.”
Gilbert also shared that since her move, she’s embraced a more natural lifestyle, one free of plastic surgery or fillers.
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“Our lives are simple now, and there’s a sweetness to that simplicity,” she said. “And with that simplicity comes a real love for stillness and living my life in a peaceful place. That means not fighting a natural process. Fighting a process that is as natural as aging is the opposite of peaceful.”