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Visiting the “A Christmas Story House” in Cleveland, Ohio

9

December 25, 2012 by Amanda

If you grew up in the United States like I did (or perhaps even if you’ve just spent a Christmas or two here), chances are you’ve been pulled in by the 24-hour movie marathons of a certain holiday classic about a certain midwestern boy who wants nothing more than a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

It’s just not the holidays without “A Christmas Story.” Without Ralphie in his pink bunny outfit. Without randy in his snowsuit. Without the Old Man and his “major award.” Without the dogs eating the Christmas turkey. Without the good old “You’ll shot your eye out” mantra.

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, go and find a copy of this 1983 classic and watch it. Right now. I’ll wait.

For those of you who ARE familiar with “A Christmas Story,” did you know that you can actually visit the house where parts of the movie were filmed?

A Christmas Story house

The house (which was used mostly for exterior shots, since the indoor scenes were filmed on a soundstage in Canada) is located in Cleveland, Ohio, despite the fact that the movie is set in a fictional town in Indiana.

In 2004, long-time fan Brian Jones bought the Cleveland house at 3159 W. 11th Street on eBay. Jones had been running a leg lamp company from his home in San Diego, and paid $150,000 for the house, sight unseen. Unluckily for him, the house was falling apart in a neighborhood where homes were selling for less than $40,000.

But Jones decided he was going to make something of this piece of Americana. He spent $240,000 more to gut the house and turn it into a replica of the Parkers’ home from “A Christmas Story.” The house opened to visitors in 2006, and has been drawing a steady stream of fans ever since.

A Christmas Story house

These days, $10 will get you into the house as well as the “A Christmas Story” Museum directly across the street where you can see props and photos from the movie (including Randy’s snowsuit). There’s also a gift shop where you can purchase your own “major award” along with other souvenirs (just be careful, because they are fra-gee-lay).

A Christmas Story house

A Christmas Story house

“I can’t put my arms down!”

 

In the house, you can:

Pose with Mr. Parker’s “major award”:

A Christmas Story house

“Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.”

 

Bite down on some Life Buoy soap in the bathroom:

A Christmas Story house

“Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. My personal preference was for Lux, but I found Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor – heady, but with just a touch of mellow smoothness. Life Buoy, on the other hand…”

 

Hide under the sink in the kitchen like Randy did when he was convinced Mr. Parker was going to kill Ralphie:

A Christmas Story house

 

Before getting to wander around the house, an employee gives a brief introduction, sharing some fun facts about “A Christmas Story,” the house, and why Cleveland was chosen as a filming location.

You’ll learn that:

  • The film was based on a collection of short stories by Jean Shepherd about growing up in Indiana in the 30s and 40s. Director Bob Clark heard snippets of these stories on the radio in 1960, and immediately thought they’d make a great film. It would take more than 20 years for his idea to come to fruition, however.
  • Clark is best known for directing “Porky’s” in 1981 — think “American Pie,” but in the 80s.
  • Cleveland was chosen as one of the major filming locations because of the department store Higbee’s, which agreed to keep its Christmas decorations up for a few extra months and allow Clark and his crew to come in and film there.
  • “A Christmas Story” did not do very well at the box office when it was released in November of 1983. It was up against hits like “Scarface” and disappeared from most screens before Christmas Day.
  • The movie became popular through those 24-hour movie marathons we all know and love, the first of which took place in 1988. Warner Brothers got the rights to the film from MGM in 1986 in a bundle of 50 movies, and tried the marathon as a stunt. It has since become a holiday tradition.

Today, “A Christmas Story” ranks up there with “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” as Christmas classics for most Americans. In fact, the film is even being added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry this year, which consists of “cinematic treasures” that “represent important cultural, artistic and historic achievements in filmmaking.”

Not bad for a movie that’s been made famous through 24-hour movie marathons.

It should be no surprise then that opening up the Cleveland house to fans has proven popular. The day I was there (a Wednesday afternoon the week before Christmas), the house was packed. The afternoon tour I went on had at least 30-40 people on it, all intent on taking a photo with the leg lamp in the window. Who would have thought?

A Christmas Story house

“Only one thing in the world could’ve dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.”

 

If you’re a “Christmas Story” fan and ever find yourself in Cleveland, definitely visit this place.  It’s a must for any kid who grew up watching this movie!

A Christmas Story house

 

If you go…

  • The house is located at 3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland, OH 44109
  • Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children 7-12, and free for children 6 and under. Tickets are good for both the house and museum.
  • The house is open year-round: Thurs.-Sat. 10 am-5 pm and Sunday noon-5 pm (holiday hours are extended).
  • Check out www.achristmasstoryhouse.com for more info.
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Are you a fan of “A Christmas Story”? Would you want to visit the house in Cleveland?

 

 


9 comments »

  1. Ian Ord says:

    this is all kinds of amazing! Just watched this today in Christmas tradition, though it was my gf’s first time seeing it! Not a filipino tradition apparently… regardless, we’ve both added this house to our travel bucket list 🙂 thanks for sharing and merry christmas!!!
    Ian Ord recently posted..Photo Essay: Deception Island, Antarctica through the lensMy Profile

    • Amanda says:

      Well I’m glad you introduced the GF to this Christmas tradition! If you find yourself in Ohio anytime soon, let me know and I’ll totally take you here!

  2. Ayngelina says:

    We watch that movie every Christmas and I always wonder if they knew they had such a hit on their hands when they shot the movie.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Untouched OkanaganMy Profile

    • Amanda says:

      I can guarantee they did not! It was so interesting to learn those fun facts about how the movie became the Christmas tradition it is today.

  3. Rebecca says:

    As a Jew, I’ve only seen A CHRISTMAS STORY once (I’m more an ELF/BAD SANTA/HOME ALONE gal) but I have to say PROPS to the owner for turning that house, and hopefully the neighborhood around! That is so awesome what he did.
    Rebecca recently posted..Alaska – The Stars At Night, Are Big And Bright….My Profile

    • Amanda says:

      Agreed! The surrounding neighborhood is still a bit questionable, but the house itself is certainly doing well for itself! I love success stories like this one!

  4. Greg Prohl says:

    Love the movie and love the article – definitely one of my all time favorites. I grew up in northern Indiana in the 50’s and 60’s so I LIVED this movie, it never fails to enchant and make me laugh. So cool that the house lives on, just like the film.
    Greg Prohl recently posted..The Pacific Northwest Coast of Washington and OregonMy Profile

    • Amanda says:

      Awesome! You can definitely relate, then. If you ever find yourself in northeast Ohio, you should definitely stop in for a visit!

  5. […] in the cult classic holiday film “A Christmas Story.” The house is now a museum that you can visit and tour. And yes, of course there’s a leg lamp in the […]

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