A Christmas Story House
is both a tribute to and re-creation of the Parker family's house as seen in the movie A Christmas Story
). It is located in Cleveland, Ohio
Fiction to film
The film takes place in fictional Hohman, Indiana, the setting of writer Jean Shepherd
's stories, based on his actual hometown, Hammond, Indiana
. For the film adaptation of these stories, director Bob Clark
reportedly sent scouts
to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland for exterior filming. Cleveland was chosen because of Higbee Department Store. Scouts had been unsuccessful in finding a department store that was willing to be part of the film. Higbee's vice president Bruce Campbell agreed to take on the project on the condition he be allowed to edit the script for cursing. Appropriately, the fictional boyhood home of Ralphie Parker is on Cleveland Street, the name of the actual street where Shepherd grew up. In addition to the house exteriors, Cleveland was the location used for the scenes involving Higbee's
department store, despite the fact that there were no Higbee's stores in Shepherd's hometown.
However, Cleveland was only one of several locations used. The school scenes were shot at the Victoria School in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. The Christmas tree purchasing scene was filmed in Toronto, Ontario, as was the sound stage filming of interior shots of the Parker home.
The exterior shots of the house and neighborhood where Ralphie lived were filmed in the Tremont section of Cleveland's West Side. The "...only I didn't say fudge" scene was filmed at the foot of Cherry Street in Toronto.
Restoration and reconfiguration
In December 2004, Brian Jones, a San Diego entrepreneur
and fan of the film since childhood, bought the house on eBay
,000. Jones used revenue from his business, The Red Rider Leg Lamp Company
, which manufactures replicas of the "major award" Ralphie's father won in the film, for the down payment. The previous owners had reconfigured
the building into a duplex
, installed modern windows, and covered the original wood siding with blue vinyl
. Watching the movie frame by frame, Jones drew detailed plans of the interiors - which had been filmed on a Toronto sound stage - and spent $240,000 to gut the structure, reconfigure it to a single-family dwelling, transform it into a near-replica of the movie set, and restore the exterior to its appearance in the film.
Open to the public
Jones borrowed $129,000 to purchase the house across the street and converted it into a gift shop and museum which contains some of the props from the movie, including Randy's snow suit and the leg lamp (although the lamp is broken in the film, alternates survived). The house and museum opened to the public on November 25 2006
, with original cast members attending the grand opening, and the site drew 4,300 visitors during its first weekend.
Other local businesses have taken advantage of Jones' acumen and created promotions linked to the "Christmas Story House," its official name. C&Y Chinese Restaurant
, located on Cleveland's East Side, now serves Peking Roast Duck
(a.k.a. "Chinese Turkey") – with waiters removing the head with a cleaver tableside, just as they did at the family's on-screen Christmas dinner – and offers a discount to diners who present their ticket stubs
from the house tour. As a result, their weekend business doubled to more than 1000 patrons per day at the time of the opening of A Christmas Story House. The Renaissance Cleveland Hotel offers a package deal for two that includes overnight accommodations and tickets to the House. As a bonus, the film is aired in the room 24 hours a day. Patty LaFountaine-Johnson, a local actress who portrayed one of the Higbee Santa's elves, hand-sews and autographs red-and-green felt hats similar to her movie costume and sells them at the house's gift shop.