‘Little House on the Prairie’: Why Michael Landon Blew Up All but One Building on Set

by Clayton Edwards
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“Little House on the Prairie” is an iconic part of television history. Over the series’ long run, the cast bonded and grew together. Like their characters on the show, many members of the cast grew up in Walnut Grove. So, everyone on the show felt a deep connection to the little town. It was almost like a second home. This is part of the reason that Michael Landon flew off the handle when he found out the show was canceled.

The main issue he had was that no one at the network contacted him about it. In fact, actress Melissa Gilbert told him about the cancelation of “Little House on the Prairie”. Landon felt deeply disrespected by this. According to Gilbert, Landon wanted to destroy the “Little House” sets as a middle finger to the network.

Initially, Michael Landon wanted to level everything. In her autobiography, Gilbert wrote, “TV and movie sets tend to get recycled over time, and none of us wanted to see Oleson’s Mercantile being used in some other production and have other people tromping through places where many of us had grown up.”

The only “Little House on the Prairie” Building Left Standing

On the final day of filming, the cast of “Little House on the Prairie” walked onto the set not knowing what to expect. What they saw was almost complete annihilation. Every building except for the church lay in ruins. About this detail, Gilbert wrote, “I guess Mike didn’t have the b-lls to blow up a church.” However, the building was not unscathed. Large chunks of its walls were missing. Shrapnel from surrounding buildings tore through the church.

There’s a good chance that no other production would be able to use the building, However, it is easy to see why Landon didn’t want to actually blow up the church. It was the Ingalls family’s church. Landon attended that church for nearly a decade, even if it was just part of a TV set. At the same time, blowing up even a fake church seems like it would come with some seriously bad luck.

The Destruction of Walnut Grove

It was an emotional final day for the “Little House on the Prairie” cast. For the cast, it was like going to a funeral. They shared stories and tears between shooting scenes that day. They were saying goodbye to a part of their lives and the rubble of Walnut Grove was a stark reminder that it was all over. There was no going back to that peaceful town in the Simi Valley.

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