Recently I took a trip to Ohio to visit family and while there I decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do for ages. I hopped in the car one morning and struck out for Cleveland to tour the home featured in the movie, A Christmas Story.
This wonderful old Victorian home located at 3159 W. 11th Street in Cleveland Ohio, was used for all the exterior shots of the movie.
It’s an interesting story how it came to be restored to its former movie-house glory. The owner, Brian Jones, grew up watching the movie each year. It was a favorite movie of his and his family. Brian went on to attend the U. S. Naval Academy and graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering.
Next he headed off to flight school with plans to become a Navy pilot but those dreams were shattered when he found his vision didn’t meet the Navy’s strict vision requirements. I’ve always wondered why pilots can’t just wear glasses or contacts? Maybe they are afraid they’ll fall off or come out.
To cheer Brian up, his dad made a lamp just like the leg lamp featured in the movie, A Christmas Story. It was a labor of love and quite the challenge but it turned out really great and he shipped it off to Brian. Before he shipped it, the lamp had been a big hit with everyone who saw it. When Brian saw it, he got the idea to start reproducing the leg lamp as a business venture.
One day Brian’s wife who was on deployment in the Middle East, emailed Brian to let him know her Captain had noticed the house from the movie was for sale on eBay! HA! Is there anything you can’t buy on eBay? She jokingly told Brian he should buy it…and by golly, he did!
Brian offered the seller $150,000 on the spot if he would end the auction right then. The seller did and Brian found himself the proud owner of the home featured in the iconic and well-loved movie, A Christmas Story.
eBay Ad from A Christmas Story website
While touring the home, our guide told us Brian was in shock when he visited the home and saw it in person for the first time. Brian was living in CA and he had thought the price he paid was great compared to what houses were going for out there, that was until he learned the other homes on the street were selling for around $25,000.
The historic 1895 home had unfortunately been renovated with vinyl siding, new windows and had been converted into a duplex. All that had to be undone before it could be taken back to its original movie house appearance.
Photo from A Christmas Story Website
I can’t tell you how excited I was when I arrived and got my first sighting of the home. It was awesome…just like the movie. I’m pretty sure I became 9 years old right there on the spot! Be careful if you visit, this too could happen to you!
When visiting, one thing you can’t help but notice is the stark contrast between the A Christmas Story house and the homes surrounding it. The other homes are in pretty rough shape.
While buying my $10 ticket for the tour of the home, I asked about this and was told there’s a 5K/10K Run each year in December and the proceeds go to the “A Christmas Story House Neighborhood Restoration Project.” You’ll find more info about the run at the A Christmas Story website here: A Christmas Story Run
Today I’m giving you a tour of the outside and tomorrow we are going in! See that triple window there above the porch? That window is in Ralphie and Randy’s bedroom.
When you’re standing in their room and looking out that window, you can see the gift store for the house across the street, slightly down on the left. The garages you see house some of the old vehicles used in the movie. I’ll share pics of those in a later post. I just can’t possibly fit everything into one post, it would be way too long.
Standing at that same window, if you look directly across the street, you’ll see the home that houses the A Christmas Story Museum. It contains all the wonderful artifacts, collections and props from the movie. I can’t wait to share what I saw in there in an upcoming post.
Back to the house…if you haven’t ever seen the movie, A Christmas Story, you need to correct that deficient in your education right away! 🙂 It’s delightful and will have you reliving moments from your childhood, no matter your age. Ironically, when the movie came out in 1983, it was not a hit and only lasted two weeks in the theater. How things changed when it started playing on TV!
It has become a holiday classic and people travel from far and wide to see the home in person. By the way, July is the perfect time to tour it. It was just me and another couple on the tour so we had a nice leisurely tour and I was able to take a bunch of pictures since the rooms weren’t filled with tour-goers.
Tours run all day long and during this time of year, the groups are smaller. If you go around Christmastime, expect long lines snaking down the sidewalk outside. Take a blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate…it’s cold in Cleveland in December!
A view of the porch on the left side of the home…
Another view of the side of the home, beyond the porch…
The back of the home…
Remember the scene in the movie where Ralphie daydreams of being a hero with his Red Ryder Carbine Action Range Model air rifle? He fantasizes over saving his family from Black Bart and his cohorts. Notice the old shed in this scene.
We see it again in the background when Ralphie goes outside on Christmas morning to try out his new gun.
It had fallen into terrible shape by the time Brian bought the home.
Today it has been fully restored, as well.
I peeked inside and snapped this pic. Let’s head back around front.
Do you collect Dept. 56 lit houses? If so, they have reproduced this house for that collection. Over the years they’ve added to it and now you can buy the whole movie village, including Higbees Department store, Warren G. Harding (aka Victoria School) which is Ralphie’s school, Bo Ling Chop Suey Palace, he Chinese restaurant where they end up eating on Christmas Day and other places from the movie. I had fun looking at the displays while in the gift store.
Remember the Christmas lights around the porch roof in the movie? Yup, it’s got ’em!
Wish I could have seen it lit up at night with the leg lamp glowing in the center window.
This was the view as I headed up the stairs to go inside for the tour.
I took numerous pictures from every angle possible trying to get a close up of the lamp from outside. I finally had to give up, the light reflecting off the window made it impossible.
The porch leading to the front door…
Tomorrow we’ll go inside for Tablescape Thursday and I can’t wait to share how the table was set and the wonderful vintage kitchen from the movie!
In the meantime, take a tour of the home in this previous “movie house tour” posted here: Tour The Movie House in A Christmas Story