The Fascinating Backstory Behind the 'A Christmas Story' House

Caroline Picard
·3 min read
The Fascinating Backstory Behind the 'A Christmas Story' House
The Fascinating Backstory Behind the 'A Christmas Story' House

From Good Housekeeping

It's easy to recall iconic lines from A Christmas Story like,"You'll shoot your eye out, kid," and, "Fra-gee-lay." Less easy? Pinpointing the exact setting for this 1983 classic holiday film starring Peter Billingsley as the Red Ryder-obsessed Ralphie Parker. In fact, two superfans spent months tracking down each filming location in the 2008 documentary Road Trip for Ralphie.

Get the rundown on four major locales below. Then get back to that 24-hour movie marathon.

Ralphie's House

Real location: 3159 West 11th Street, Cleveland, Ohio

A Christmas Story draws on the semi-fictional memoirs of writer Jean Shepherd, who grew up in Hammond, Indiana, and set his book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash) in the imaginary town of Hohman, Indiana. In real life, however, you'll find the yellow facade of Ralphie's house in the Buckeye State. Director Bob Clark reportedly scouted more than 20 cities before landing on Cleveland (more on that below) as a stand-in for most exterior shots.

In 2004, entrepreneur Brian Jones bought the Parkers' charming Victorian for $150,000 on eBay. He saved for the down payment by selling replicas of the movie's infamous leg lamp, according to the New York Times. Clark had originally shot the interior scenes on a sound stage in Toronto, so Jones spent an additional $240,000 painstakingly renovating the duplex to resemble the single-family abode seen on the silver screen. Today, you can tour the Cleveland house and the adjacent museum, home to memorabilia such as Randy's constrictive snowsuit. Really devoted fans can even stay there overnight. No hound dogs allowed, though.

The Department Store

Real location: 100 Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio

The Christmas Story crew initially set up shop in Cleveland because of the city's department store. Clark had yet to find a flagship store willing to permit filming until coming across Higbee's in Cleveland's Public Square. The store's vice president R. Bruce Campbell gave the operation the okay on one condition: the movie could not contain any profanity. This specific caveat is why The Old Man grumbles incoherently instead cursing at his clanking furnace, according to A Christmas Story House and Museum.

Higbee's served as the backdrop for the parade and Santa scenes, but sadly if you visit the location now you'll no longer find its glowing neon sign. The store closed for good in 1992 before transforming into a Dillard's and later a casino.

Ralphie's School

Real location: 173 Niagara Street, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

In addition to Cleveland, Toronto served as a primary location for filming. Victoria School in St. Catharines, Ontario, doubled as the movie's Warren G. Harding Elementary School and many of its actual students served as extras. According to A Christmas Story House and Museum, they even received '40s style haircuts to blend! You'll see them in the classroom and playground scenes, including the "triple dog dare."

If you go by the address today, you'll no longer find a school at all, though. According to the Canadian Yellow Pages, it currently belongs to the YMCA.

You Might Also Like