A Christmas Story

On December 26th we had the opportunity to visit a historic landmark in Cleveland, Ohio – A Christmas Story House.  The original mailbox from the movie still stands proudly in front of the house. 

In 1983, director/producer Bob Clark chose this location in Cleveland to film what ended up being a true holiday classic.  The house has been fully restored and you can walk through the entire house and relive all the memorable scenes from the movie, like hiding under the kitchen sink like Randy did, or run through the backyard in the footsteps of Black Bart, take a picture with the famous leg lamp in the front window, or hold the bar of Lifebouy soap on the shelf in the bathroom.  Yep, it’s all there, all the items can be found just like in the movie!

You can visit the Christmas Story House too and walk away with an incredible experience, not to mention a lot of photographs!  (we walked away with 149 photographs) And, if you are lucky like we were, you will be able to actually meet “Randy” (Ian Petrella) and snag an autograph!  It was the neatest experience actually getting the chance to meet Ian, something that we will never forget!  (Thanks Ian!)  This is a photo of our autographed poster that Ian signed for us!

The Christmas Story House is located at 3159 W. 11th Street, Cleveland, OH  44109 and you can reach them by phone at (216) 298-4919 or by visiting the website at www.AChristmasStoryHouse.com   It’s open year round, so head on over when you can so you too can experience this holiday classic for yourself!

Here are some fun facts that you may not know:
The film makers came to Cleveland so that they could shoot the department store scenes at Higbee’s.  After scouting around the mid-west, they found a store that was willing to go through the commotion of a production.  Most significantly, Higbee’s was willing to leave their Christmas decorations up well past the holiday.  Higbee’s also kept the Santa slide that was made for the movie and used it for several years after the movie’s release in 1983. 

Bob Clark appeared in the movie as the neighbor, Swede, who admires the Old Man’s leg lamp from the sidewalk.  (click on photo to read the Old Man’s lines)

Jean Shepherd appears in the movie as the grumpy man at Higbees who tells Ralphie where the line starts….and ends.  Jean is also a writer and a radio talk show host, a native of Hammond, IN, enchanted audiences with his adventures of Ralphie and the fictional town of Hohman.  Most of the stories in the movie were adapted from his book, “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash”.  Shepherd, who is also the narrator of the movie, worked closely with the production.

The film makers sent scouts throughout the urban neighborhoods to find the perfect Ralphie house.  This house was chosen because it had three primary attributes that were needed:  1) The house sits at a T-Intersection and these are often used in movies as they allow for a greater scope and mobility for the cameras, 2) The double wide lot next door at the “Bumpus House” gave the crew space for their trucks and equipment, along with room to see Raphie’s house clearly, and 3) The steel mills are clearly visible in the distance and serve as a perfect backdrop to tell an urban industrial tale.

The film makers rented out the house for the production, but actually did very little filming on the inside.  The on location scenes were edited together with what was done on the soundstage in Toronto.

In 2005, the previous owners put the house for sale on eBay.  Once he saw it, Leg Lamp lover, Brian Jones, knew this gem had to be shared.  Brian purchased the home for $150,000 and spent nearly a quarter million more to create a destination location for fans of this holiday classic movie.  The familiar green and gold exterior was brought back to its movie glory while the inside of the home was completely renovated to replicate the original set.

A Walk Through The Christmas Story House – What we saw
Upon entering the house, the first item we saw was the Fragile (FRA-GEE-LAY “It must be Italian”) crate with a leg lamp next to it.  After watching the movie hundreds of times throughout the years, it is hard to say the word “fragile” the way it should be pronounced, as this phrase from the movie is definitely a classic.

We headed into the living room where the famous leg lamp was on display in the front window, that shined into the night on Cleveland Street like the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.  The old floor model radio was standing proudly against the wall where Ralphie & Randy used to sit on the floor and listened to the Little Orphan Annie Show.  (Stay tuned for Annie’s next secret message…)  Proudly standing in the corner of the room was the Parker’s family Christmas tree where you can find the Old Man’s blue bowling ball and Ralphie’s Red Rider BB Gun leaning against the wall.

Lying on the floor by the tree was a huge pile of extension cords that the Old Man always seemed to plug in one too many.

As we turned around, we were happily surprised as Randy (Ian Petrella) walked into the living room!  WOW, we’re going to actually get to meet Randy from the movie, how cool is that!  We waited for our turn and snapped some quick photographs of Ian as he signed autographs “Oink Oink”.  He looked definitely different from what we remembered the younger Randy looked like, but heck, we all have to grow up sooner or later, right?  I did ask Ian if he still hid under sinks, and he said “not any more“.

The Kitchen:
Before we headed upstairs, we checked out the kitchen and the first thing we saw was Randy’s pink bib sitting on the dinner table.  Standing there, you started reliving the kitchen scenes in your head where Randy would not eat and his Mom encouraged him to eat like a little piggy, Oink Oink, and when you turned around you saw the kitchen sink.  That is where Randy hid crying because he thought “Daddy’s going to kill Ralphie“.

 

Your first instinct was to crawl under the kitchen sink to see if you could fit where Randy hid, and I did just that!  (I fit!)  I still could not believe that we were actually in a house where a movie was shot, that was so unbelievable and the neatest experience.  While in the kitchen, you will find the Old Man’s newspaper folded at his prominent spot at the dinner table, with a pile of his puzzles that he always tried to figure out.   The one thing that we were looking for in the kitchen and did not find, was the thermostat nob that the Mom always turned down, but it was not in kitchen as this shot was done on location in Ontario, not at this house.

 

The Upstairs: Ralphie & Randy’s Room & the Bathroom
Upon heading up the stairs, your first thought from the movie was when Ralphie was standing at the top of the stairs in the bunny suit that Aunt Clara made for him. (she always makes him the cutest things, but he was a pink nightmare for sure)  On your walk up the stairs hung so proudly photographs of Ralphie, Randy, Mom and the Old Man.  When you reached the top of the stairs, the first item you saw was the old black phone that the Mom used to phone Mrs. Schwartz to tell her what her son had taught Ralphie to say (Schwartz definitely got his that night, but Ralphie learned all of his bad words from his Old Man). 

We entered the bathroom and the first item we noticed was the Lifebouy soap sitting on the shelf, and it definitely looked a little used from all the times Ralphie got his mouth washed out. LOL  When you turned around, you saw the laundry hamper pulled in front of the toilet where Randy sat while using his secret decoder pen – only to find out that what he would reveal was actually “a crummy commercial for Ovaltine!”


The room next to the bathroom looked like the Mom’s sewing/ironing room.  It was decorated with some really nice old wallpaper and furniture and while we were looking around the room we noticed an old LOOK Magazine.  This magazine is where Ralphie hid his ad for the Red Rider BB Gun in hopes she would come across it while reading.

Upon entering Ralphie & Randy’s room, the first thing we noticed was a huge pile of pink bunny outfits laying at the foot of Randy’s bed.  Their bedroom was decorated with sailboat wallpaper and they had light blue bedspreads where they laid dreaming of what they wanted for Christmas.

Their bookshelfs were decorated with old wood blocks that you just had to laugh at because you saw written out in these blocks – Ralphie, Randy, Old Man, Bumpus, and of course, Oh Fudge.  Ralphie’s desk was placed in front of one of the front windows as it was in the movie where he crawled over his desk to see his Old Man’s arrival home and watched the Bumpus’s dogs chase him to the front door.

Ralphie also sat at his desk when he had to do his homework assignment and write a theme – “What I Want for Christmas“.  He feverishly wrote as the words flew onto the page of why he should get a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas, but all he got from everyone is… “You’ll shoot your eyes out!” – A classic BB Gun denial comment from adults.

The last part of the tour was the backyard where Ralphie engulfed in play with his new BB gun and pretended to protect his family from Black Bart.  Their old shed in the backyard was renovated back to its original glory as you can recall when Black Bart and his croanies crawled all over it as well as the back fence.  While standing in the backyard, all I was waiting for was Black Bart’s horse to come riding up from behind the fence to carry him away as Ralphie yells to him “The next time I see you, you’ll be pushing up daisies!”

Visiting the Christmas Story House was truly a great experience and we hope that you have enjoyed our post of what we saw and hope that you too can visit this historical home one day and relive the classic moments from the movie for yourself.



14 thoughts on “A Christmas Story

    • Oh I know! We had so much fun walking through the house and re-lived the entire movie when we did. That is why I had to take that photo of me hiding under the kitchen sink! Share my link with others too!

  1. Oh.My.Gosh! This is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! Adding to my “Life List,” now. That movie has brought me soooo many smiles and warm memories. Christmas is not a holiday without it (at least once)!

    • Oh man, when they start playing the Christmas Story on TV, we watch each and every one! We love that movie! I am so glad you liked that post! It took me 2 1/2 hours to do it with all the photo’s I included! We also love that funny movie “Elf” too! We laugh our heads off watching it! I love the Christmas Story house as you can touch everything! The upstairs phone where the Mom called Schwart’s Mom, to the LifeBoy soap in the bathroom…everything was so cool! Even the Life Magazine where Ralphie hid the advertisement for the Red Rider BB Gun!

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  3. Thanks for that awesome tour Valerie, I loved that show so much. That era is my favourite. I loved looking behind the scenes. Their fridge was awesome, as is the colourful Fiesta ware on the table. You are the tiniest blogger ever, look at you under that sink. I had a sink like that out at the lake for many years. I kept getting it refinished because It was cast iron with a drain board and the finish was hard to maintain. We finally replaced it in a renovation. Hope your day has been full of joy and magic, hugs to you. xoK

    • I actually re-posted that Christmas Story post from last year, as many people who are new to our blog might not have seen that post when it came out. We are so happy that our town has something this awesome in our area that we could go see. I re-lived the whole Christmas Story all over again when we walked through the house. I just had to crawl under the sink to get a photo of where Randy hid, and it was a shock to find out that Randy (Ian Petrella) was actually at the house that day to get his autograph and a photo with him! Now that was the so neat! We purchased a Christmas Story Poster while we were there and he signed it with “Oink Oink” next to his name, as he was “Mommy’s little Piggy”! I wanted so badly to try on the pink bunny suit that Aunt Clara made for Ralphie, but I did not. LOL

      • I just love that Movie and the cool Leg Lamp. Although I’m not sure it would fit in my decor…HA, it’d be a good conversation starter. Lucky you to get a poster signed too. You NEED to go back for the photo op with the bunny suit….that would make a great post…next year?

      • The Christmas Story House is open year round, but I am sure that Ian Petrella (Randy) is only there near the end of the year. Now, that would make a funny picture, me in the bunny suit…but I would have to come downstairs for the photo on the stairs landing, just like Ralphie did in the movie! (ah, that Aunt Clara makes the nicest things!) LOL

  4. Hey, Nikita! When the fireworks, pots clanging, and bells ringing happened at midnight here, I ran back into the house and jumped onto the kitchen chair! When the noise was all over, everyone came back inside. Mommy came into the kitchen first and was surprised because she left the uncooked pizza on the kitchen table, and I didn’t eat it. I was given LOTS of hugs and kisses because I had behaved and did not eat one of their midnight snacks! Little did they know that I was so scared from all of the noises happening outside that I didn’t even notice the pizza was on the table. I had missed a perfect chance to try pizza! But, I LOVED ALL of the HUGS AND KISSES!!
    Woof Woof!! Love, Harmony XO

  5. Hi, Nikita! MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your Mommy and your Daddy from Me, my Mommy, my Daddy, and my Brother!! Hope that you had a wonderful Holiday!! And, that SANTA brought you everything that was on your Christmas list!!

    OH, WOW!! AWESOME!! You are so LUCKY to be so near The Christmas Story House!! It is a classic movie!! We have it on as background most of the 24 hours that it is on TV! And, we ALSO watch it from beginning to end on our DVD! Maybe someday we (at least my Daddy, my Mommy, and my Brother) will get to visit it! My Mommy has the Dept.56 village collection of The Christmas Story. And, my Mommy has The Christmas Story House site listed in her favorites on our computer. We were first introduced to the “Story” when Christopher was in fifth grade, and his teacher’s Christmas gift to the class was to watch the movie! Both Room Moms (my Mommy and another Mom) were invited to watch it also! Since then, it has become part of our Christmas celebrations!

    Did you make a list of any New Year resolutions? Have LOTS of FUN tonight celebrating the arrival of the NEW YEAR!! The four of us have LOTS of food and FUN celebration at our house tonight!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

    LOVE,
    Harmony XO, Michael XO, Christopher XO, and Karen XO

    • HI HARMONY, MOMMY, DADDY & CHRISTOPHER! I ACTUALLY WATCHED THE BALL DROP LAST NIGHT, BUT I GROWLED AT THE FIREWORKS THAT I HEARD OUTSIDE OUR WINDOW. DADDY & MOMMY LAUGHED WHEN I DID THIS. I HAD A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS AND GOT MORE TOYS THAT I COULD IMAGINE AND I GOT OVERWHELMED FROM THE DAY OF EXCITEMENT. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU AND WE WISH YOU A GREAT 2012 WITH MUCH HAPPINESS. WOOF WOOF, NIKITA

    • We watched the Christmas Story too on Christmas, just love that movie! It is such a classic and we were so happy that we finally got the chance to head down to Cleveland to see the Christmas Story House. Mommy took over 149 photographs, but there was no way possible to include all of them into the blog post, so we posted most of the good ones. Glad you got the chance to see Mommy’s post of what the house looked like! It was the neatest thing we have ever seen.

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