‘Little House on the Prairie’ Star Melissa Gilbert Opens Up About Ditching Hollywood For Her Own Land in Michigan

by Caitlin Berard
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(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

After decades in Hollywood, Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert packed her bags and left the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles behind in favor of a small town in Michigan, the home state of Gilbert’s husband, Tim Busfield.

They would only spend five years in their new locale before moving back to big city life. However, the seeds of low-key living had been planted. And before long, they were pining for quiet cabin life once again.

This time, their home search led them to Highland Lake, New York, a quick 2-hour drive from their home in Manhattan. It’s been two years since that purchase, and Melissa Gilbert has now released a memoir entitled Back to the Prairie: A Home Remade, a Life Rediscovered, detailing her journey from Hollywood to the Catskill Mountains.

In an interview with Smashing Interviews Magazine, Melissa Gilbert gave further insight into her decision to leave the big city behind. Unsurprisingly, her fictional life on Little House on the Prairie fueled her desire to make this romanticized way of life a reality.

“I hear from people a lot. Especially young women, how they wish they’d had a childhood like Laura’s was portrayed on Little House on the Prairie. Even though I played her, I also wished for the same thing,” Gilbert said with a laugh.

Melissa Gilbert Describes How ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Helped Shape Her Dreams

During her time on the classic TV series Little House on the Prairie, Melissa Gilbert fell in love with nature. Decades in Hollywood, however, dulled that passion. It took a global pandemic, but Melissa Gilbert finally found it again, in a rustic New York cabin named Cabbage.

“It took a global pandemic for me to find the lifestyle,” Gilbert explained. “Not that I was completely off the grid or entirely without any sort of modern comforts. But I’d always wanted to have land, to have chickens, to have a garden, to be somewhat independent in many different ways, to also contribute to the planet, to give back, to try to leave a smaller carbon footprint, and just be a conscientious human.”

The decision to move to the Catskills, of course, came from Gilbert’s own passions and interests. However, Melissa Gilbert also credits Little House on the Prairie with shaping the person she is today. “I think that being on the show inspired me to have this life that I have now, for sure. One hundred percent,” she said.

In addition to the adorable little cottage, Melissa Gilbert’s property also houses a raised herb and vegetable garden, as well as a chicken coop. And Gilbert has no plans to stop making small adjustments and improvements any time soon. To her, there’s no such thing as a finished house. “It’s always a work in progress.”

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