It is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes A Christmas Story such a beloved holiday classic. Whether it’s The Old Man taking pride in his “Major Award” or Ralphie walking down the stairs in his pink bunny suit, the film is packed with endlessly quotable dialogue and far too many memorable moments to count. With numerous adaptations already produced and a new sequel on the way, audiences can’t get enough of this Christmas staple. If you are among the millions of viewers that watch TBS’s annual A Christmas Story marathon, you welcome the Parker Family into your home every holiday season. But have you every wished you could visit their house instead?
Well, you can.
THE HOUSE ON CLEVELAND STREET
A Christmas Story is based on a series of personal childhood stories by Jean Shephard that were published under the collected title, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. While the film’s story takes place in Indiana, which is where Jean Shephard grew up, production took place elsewhere. Nearly all of the indoor scenes were filmed either on sets or locations in Canada, but many of the scenes filmed outside of the family home were actually filmed in Cleveland. This includes key moments such as Ralphie’s backyard fantasy and The Old Man admiring his leg lamp illuminating the neighborhood.
After an exhaustive search, Cleveland was chosen for two main reasons. First, the house located at 3159 W 11th Street reminded director Bob Clark of his childhood home, which he believed it offered the perfect feel for the story. Second, a nearby department store, Higbees, allowed production to film a major Santa visit set piece, as well as the holiday parade scenes, at their location. In a strange coincidence, Jean Shephard’s childhood home was actually on Cleveland Street and he even refers to the home as “the little house on Cleveland Street” in his narration.
After filming, the house remained a private residence until 2006, when it finally opened to the public and became an ultimate Christmas destination.
A CHRISTMAS STORY HOUSE & MUSEUM
What is the strangest thing you ever bought on eBay? For Brian Jones, that is a pretty easy question to answer. In 2004, his wife sent him a link to an eBay listing for the original home used in A Christmas Story and joked that they should buy it. Even though the house had been completely gutted and Brian had never even been to Cleveland, he put an offer in the next day. After two years and hundreds of thousands in renovations, Brian opened A Christmas Story House and has been expanding the campus ever since. Situated just 10 minutes from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it is a perfect tourist destination.
Originally launched in 2006, A Christmas Story House & Museum is a must visit for any fans of the film or just fans of holiday nostalgia in general. The house itself is the actual home used during the filming of A Christmas Story, with the exterior restored to look just as it did during production. The interior is an almost exact reproduction of the interior sets, with the living room, kitchen, and Ralphie and Randy’s bedroom faithfully recreated. There are period appropriate props and replicas strewn throughout the home, and plenty of easter-eggs for eagle-eyed visitors to search for during a tour.
Directly across the street from the home is the A Christmas Story Museum, which features thousands of production photos, script pages, and original props and wardrobe. The holy grail of the exhibit is one of only six Red Ryder BB guns used in the production of the holiday classic. Unfortunately, the leg lamp on display is a replica since all the originals were either broken during filming or have since gone missing. However, the replica leg lamp is screen accurate and available to purchase in the adjacent Gift Shop, along with every other type of branded merchandise you can imagine. In the lot connecting the Museum and Gift Shop, you can also find a replica of the Parker Family 1937 Oldsmobile and the actual Fire Truck used to rescue Flick from the flagpole.
Across the street is the Rowley Inn, a local bar and restaurant that everyone visiting the museum should check out. Not only do they offer a discount for museum guests showing their tickets, but they are also part of the A Christmas Story legacy too. The second floor of the establishment was used as production offices during filming and the walls of the bar are filled with behind-the-scenes photos from the movie shoot. Some of the regular patrons were even extras on the film, so you may even be lucky enough to hear a personal anecdote about filming.
It seems like there are so many things to do that afterwards you might need a nap. It’s a good thing they offer overnight accommodations, as well.
THE BUMPUS HOUSE
Imagine waking up on Christmas morning, walking down the stairs in your Pink Nightmare Bunny costume, seeing the soft glow of the leg lamp in the window, and spotting a Red Ryder BB Gun nestled underneath your tree?
Well, you can experience that any day of the year if you choose to stay overnight in the A Christmas Story house. Guests who book an overnight stay get full use of the house beginning one hour after the final daily tour. The top floor of the home offers modern accommodations, or you can choose to sleep in Ralphie and Randy’s bedroom for the complete experience. While overnight accommodations in the house can be quite expensive, especially in December, there is a cheaper alternative that still allows you to experience the film in real life.
Just like in the film, The Bumpus House is located directly next door. The Parker’s “hillbilly” neighbors may not have been seen in the film but their hounds make quite the impression. While no pets are actually allowed on the property, the home is still true to spirit of the film with a design style described as an eclectic mix on 1940s vintage with modern amenities. The Bumpus House can be booked in its entirety or split into two separate accommodations.
A CHRISTMAS STORY CHRISTMAS
After nearly 40 years, an official sequel is currently in production with Peter Billingsley and much of the original cast returning. A Christmas Story Christmas will see Ralphie returning to his childhood home to reconnect with friends and bond with his own family after the death of his father. It has not been revealed if any production will take place at the A Christmas Story Home & Museum, but the iconic home will certainly be prominently featured in the sequel in some way. At the very least, we can expect some props and wardrobe from the sequel to end up on display in the museum. Maybe they will even score an official leg lamp from this production.
Regardless of what the future holds, this is already one Christmas Destination that you won’t want to miss. So, the next time you are in Cleveland, be sure to visit A Christmas Story House & Museum and tell them The Elf Squad sent you. We Triple-Dog-Dare You!