This ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Set Was Tragically Lost in a Fire
Most of the sets of Little House on the Prairie no longer exist. But there was one that was replicated only to be tragically lost in a fire. This is what happened to the home of the Ingalls family years after the show ended.
The ‘Little House on the Prairie’ sets were blown up
Sometimes sets get reused for other shows after one ends. But there is a rumor Michael Landon, who played Charles Ingalls, made sure this wouldn’t happen because he was upset about Little House on the Prairie getting canceled.
“He was furious that he had never received an official phone call from NBC president Brandon Tartikoff or anyone else at the network, letting him know the fate of the show,” Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder, revealed in her memoir, Prairie Tale.
“He had been on the network since 1959,” she continued. “Perceiving disrespect, Mike’s temper red-lined. He wanted to destroy all the sets—Walnut Grove, everything in Simi Valley.”
If this is true, he got what he wanted and everything was blown up except for the church. Gilbert shared her reaction to the remaining set.
“I guess Mike didn’t have the balls to blow up a church,” she wrote. “But chunks of its wall were missing as a result of shrapnel from the nearby Oleson’s Mercantile and Nellie’s Restaurant.”
There was a different reason given for the demolished sets at the time
Landon’s feelings weren’t revealed until later. The New York Times reported in 1984 that Landon claimed NBC leased the land and promised to restore it to its original state once the show was done.
The show ended with a robber-baron buying up the town. The residents decided to destroy their property so he wouldn’t have it.
“I think it makes for a good strong pioneer ending,” Landon said. “It was also a nice catharsis for the cast and crew. There were lots of tears when we finally blew up the town. The actors had all become very attached to their own buildings, so it was very emotional.”
The replica of the home was burned in a fire twice
So there wasn’t much left of the show’s sets. The replica of the homestead on Little House of the Prairie was lost in a fire on the Big Sky Movie Ranch in Simi Valley in 2003.
“It is a total, devastating loss,” Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Leigh Nixon said, according to Ventura County Star. “That is one of the things Simi was known for.”
Filming coordinators Don and Debra Early hoped to build replicas of the sets in the future. Sadly, the prairie home was destroyed again in a fire in 2019. The fire was started by lightning starting a brush fire in Ventura County. The storm also extinguished the fire.
“It’s one of the last props, if not the last props from the set,” Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Scott Dettorre said, according to The Sacramento Bee. Sadly, this means there isn’t much left besides the location for the filming of the show.