The Surprising Place Little House On The Prairie's Melissa Gilbert Lives Today

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Remembered for its covered wagons and harrowing storylines, "Little House on the Prairie" is one of the most beloved American TV shows of all time (via CBS News). "Little House on the Prairie" began in 1932 as an autobiographical collection of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (via Britannica). Especially popular among young readers, the series inspired generations of girls to be daring and quick-witted just like Laura. In 1974, the popular books were reimagined for the screen, set in the late 1800s and similarly following the pioneering Ingalls family, this time as they settled down just outside the small town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Like the books, the TV show centered on Laura, played by child actress Melissa Gilbert, per IMDb.

At just 9 years old, Gilbert was cast as Laura Ingalls, growing up on a set packed with animals and coworkers dressed head-to-toe in period clothing. As Gilbert remembered in a 2011 Television Academy interview, it was "the greatest dress-up ever." Throughout the 70s and 80s, Gilbert rose to fame, bringing the prairie to life for countless adoring viewers. For many, "Little House on the Prairie" represents nostalgia, a time of innocence that, though not without its faults, gave many young viewers permission to play in the dirt and explore just like Laura (via Vulture). In recent years, actress Melissa Gilbert, propelled by her "Little House" success, has chosen to settle down in a modern-day prairie of her own.

Melissa Gilbert moved back to her prairie roots

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Melissa Gilbert and her husband, Timothy Busfield, reexamined their lives. As Gilbert reflected in an ET interview, "Life changed completely and the things that really matter are the things we love the most and the things that bring us the most peace and comfort." For the actress, that was her cabin in the Catskills. Gilbert and Busfield, who's known for his role on "The West Wing" (via IMDb), were lucky enough to buy their cabin shortly before the onset of the pandemic. In regards to the "cabbage," a combination of cabin and cottage, Gilbert told The New York Times, "This is one of those places that most people would say, 'Are you nuts?' if you expressed interest in buying it." The cabin was a fixer-upper, complete with peeling paint and a generous helping of mice. Despite all of this, Gilbert and Busfield saw potential.

The home sits on 14 acres of land, per Closer Weekly. Though more forested than Gilbert's childhood on the wide-open prairie, the rural surrounding are reminiscent nonetheless. Accompanied by a limited budget, the couple employed a do-it-yourself attitude for many of the renovations. But Gilbert wasn't intimidated, accepting the blank slate as an opportunity to express creativity, per The New York Times. The couple found joy in this simpler life — cooking in cast iron skillets and dreaming up future projects for their house.

Melissa Gilbert wrote a book about the move

Melissa Gilbert is the author of four books, the most recent being her 2022 memoir "Back to the Prairie," a reflection on her move to the rural Catskills in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She details the renovation process, taking readers along for the ride as she turns her upstate fixer-upper into a comfortable home. As summarized by Simon & Schuster, Gilbert "trades Botox treatments for DIY projects, power lunching for gardening and raising chickens." The book blends all the charming aspects of an HGTV "Flip or Flop" episode with self-reflection and personal growth — maybe even a touch of Hollywood magic that only a famous actress could deliver.

In a recent interview with People, Gilbert opened up about her decision to simplify her life, saying, "I grew up in an industry that values the outside considerably more than the inside, and I was caught in that wheel of trying to stay young." Rather than working to keep up with the fast-paced world of Hollywood, the author opted for what makes her happy: chickens, writing, and, of course, her marriage. These days, she's embracing the aging process, championing getting older as a "reward," not "just an option," according to Prevention