“A Christmas Story:” Ralphie’s House

by hookedonhouses on December 8, 2008

A Christmas Story movie house

One of my family’s favorite holiday movies is A Christmas Story. It was based on a collection of author Jean Shepherd’s short stories in the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. When it premiered before Thanksgiving in 1983, it got mixed reviews and disappeared from theaters long before Christmas.

It didn’t really make much of a mark at first. Now, of course, it’s considered a Christmas classic, and you can catch it playing on television throughout the month of December.

Christmas Story movie house in snow

I love how they recreated the look and feel of an Indiana home in the 1940s. My favorite room is probably the kitchen with the old appliances and products in it:

A Christmas Story movie house kitchen 2

A Christmas Story movie house kitchen

Dad makes an announcement. He just won a “Major Award!”

A Christmas Story movie house major award

The box says fra-gee-lay, so “it must be from Italy!” Dad says. His Major Award is a lamp. A leg lamp.

A Christmas Story major award leg lamp arrives

Dad and the boys are excited. Mom isn’t so sure.

A Christmas Story major award leg lamp arrives 2

The leg lamp creates quite a stir in the neighborhood. A little trivia: the neighbor who comes up and asks what it is was Director Bob Clark in a cameo.

A Christmas Story movie leg lamp in window

I love this old radio that Ralphie listens to his shows on. We had a very similar one in my house when I was growing up (no, I’m not THAT old–it was an antique when we got it!). A reader informs me that it’s a 1940 Canadian Westinghouse model 780-X. You can see a photo and get more information about the model here. (Thanks, Jan!)

What was that crashing sound? “Oops! I was just watering my plants, and the leg lamp broke!” What an unfortunate accident:

A Christmas Story movie house broken leg lamp

We see the bathroom when Ralphie gets his mouth washed out with soap:

A Christmas Story movie house bathroom

The family goes to Higbee’s Department Store to see Santa. All Ralphie wants is a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot, Range Model Air Rifle. But Santa is sort of terrifying, as are the elves, and Ralphie freezes up when the time comes to ask for it.

A Christmas Story movie Santa Higbees

I love this shot of the department store, all decked out for Christmas:

A Christmas Story movie Higbees Department Store

Putting the star on top of the tree can be dangerous:

A Christmas Story movie house Christmas tree

Ralphie and Randy opening gifts on Christmas morning:

Ralphie gets a pink bunny suit made specially for him by his Aunt Clara, who “has always operated under the assumption that I’m a girl.”

Ralphie in the pink bunny suit Christmas Story movie

Just when he had given up hope, Ralphie gets the Red Ryder air rifle he was hoping for!

He goes outside and promptly “shoots his eye out,” sort of (but not really).

The ill-fated turkey, soon to be eaten by the “hillbilly neighbor’s” dogs. In the background you can see that the Parkers have decorated with a red paper chain in the dining room:

A Christmas Story movie house turkey dinner

The house that was used for the exterior shots in the movie was bought in 2005 by a fan on eBay for $150,000. Brian Jones then spent a year and half a million dollars restoring the home to the way it looked on screen.

A Christmas Story movie house in the snow

The interior was completely redesigned to match the interior of the home shown in the movie, which had been filmed in a Toronto studio. In 2006, the house museum opened as a tourist attraction. He even purchased the house next door and converted it to a gift shop and museum dedicated to the film. Here’s how it looks today:

The Real Christmas Story house in Cleveland today

Visit A Christmas Story House for more information or to buy your own leg lamp. You know you want one.

Visit my Houses Onscreen page to see more great Christmas movies, including…

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation house in lights

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Cathy December 8, 2008 at 8:08 am

My son first watched this movie when he was about 5 years old. We watched at least once during the holiday and then we watch every Christmas Eve. We love this movie.

Emily B December 8, 2008 at 8:51 am

I was driving down the road one day and saw a leg lamp in someone’s window. I turned around and drove past again to verify that’s what I was actually seeing. I then laughed so hard I nearly wet myself. As for the movie, it’s not a favorite of mine. I do love when the kid gets his tongue stuck to the flagpole though. LOL

angela | the painted house December 8, 2008 at 8:55 am

I will admit, cautiously, that I haven’t seen this movie in its entirety. It is interesting to me to see period movies done within periods like this one about the 40s done in the 80s. I like to see each decade’s spin on another. Great synopsis, Julia–I can guess what you did this weekend! :)

And, man, oh, man, you gotta really love the movie to recreate the whole house! It is great that he knows what his passion is and goes after it with such gusto! :)

The Summer Kitchen Girls` December 8, 2008 at 9:36 am

Hey Julia! We’ll be keeping your dad in our prayers!
This house is only 1 1/2 hours away from us….haven’t gone yet. We have those leg lamps in two homes on our neighborhood….one is us ALL YEAR LONG! Yulk!
Anyway, hope all is going well!
Karla & Karrie

Mike December 8, 2008 at 10:26 am

Okay, who doesn’t love this movie? And who doesn’t love that for 24 hours on December 24th you can turn on TBS and find yourself in the middle of it?

Julia, where in Northern Indiana? I myself spent 4 fantastic years in South Bend.

hookedonhouses December 8, 2008 at 10:35 am

Mike, we have family in Elkhart, Indiana–right down the street from South Bend! :-)

desiree December 8, 2008 at 11:21 am

If my father was still with us, I’d buy that lamp in a heart beat. My dad loved that movie. So much so, that after he saw it, the next day he took me and my boyfriend (now my husband) to see it. My husband and I have great memories of my dad laughing so hard watching the movie in the theaters. It’s a must see for our family during the holiday season. Movie night is coming up! YEAH!

Liz@VioletPosy December 8, 2008 at 11:57 am

Thinking of you all today and I hope your Dad is ok x

hookedonhouses December 8, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Update: I just got home from the hospital. They went in to clear the blockage in my dad’s heart and couldn’t find it. The surgeon says he’s baffled. It had disappeared. Very bizarre–but good news! He gets to go back home today. I think we’ll call it our “Christmas miracle.”

Of course Lily is sick now with a fever and home from school, so I’m off to drive her to the doctor. It’s always something. -Julia :-)

desiree December 8, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Good news Julia! Hope your little one feels better soon too!

Natalie December 8, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Whoah! Glad your Dad is doing well. Hope Lily feels better soon!

My daughter is suffering from some chest wall pain right now – not fun.

I love this movie, and really enjoyed this post. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I have an even deeper appreciation for your amazing blog. My photos don’t look anything like the great pics you post that show such great detail of the homes you’re writing about.

Re: the palm lined drive – I’d love to do that at my place but I have a short stubby little drive way, it would look kinda funny, huh? lol

Linda@ Restyled Home December 8, 2008 at 6:49 pm

Grest news about your Dad, Julia! Here’s hoping Lily gets better soon.
I thought I was this movies’s number one fan! I dedicate a tree in my home each Christmas to it, and have watched it umpteenth times. Thanks for giving it the attention it deserves!!

Hope things settle down for you soon,
Linda

Ellen December 8, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Has anyone else spotted “Ralphie” in the movie “Four Christmases?” My 22 year-old daughter could pick him out of a crowd at 100 paces. Me? I still can’t believe it’s really him … all grown up.

Ms.Tee December 9, 2008 at 12:58 am

That’s wonderful news about your dad! I’ll keep him in my prayers and Lily, too. What a great post – I never knew all those interesting pieces of trivia. And I love the shot of decorated department store – I never noticed the details before. :0)

hellogorgeous December 9, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Greetings – over from Linda at the Lime… You know they’re auctioning an overnight on eBay at this house. You get to sleep over on Christmas Eve and have breakfast or something. And I think Christmas dinner is Chinese. Seriously.

I love this movie. One case where the movie outdid the book!

Bridgette December 10, 2008 at 1:51 pm

My goodness, how I looove this movie! Just looking through these pictures makes me excited to watch it again! “You’ll ‘shootcher’ eye out, kid!”

Bonnie December 10, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Hey! That’s my kitchen sink in there! Julia, glad to hear your Dad is fine and hope little Lily is recovering nicely, too.

Liz December 10, 2008 at 4:41 pm

I could watch that movie over and over. And do. :)
I’m so glad about your dad.

rue December 10, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Rich loves that movie and I do too now. I had only seen it once years ago, but now it’s a Christmas must watch :)

I’m so sorry to hear about your dad having surgery. Prayers for him and your family.

(((hugs)))
rue

laura @ the shore house December 10, 2008 at 7:58 pm

I was secretly hoping you wouldn’t do Ralphie’s house…’cause it was my back up plan for your bloggeriffic house tour next week. :-) But I’m glad you did…you do a way better tour than I would have, and I just LOVE this movie. Can you believe it’s 25 years old?? Crazy how time flies.

Bella Casa December 11, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Hi Julia,

I love this movie, too! I remember a couple of years ago, Rite Aid had those leg lamps and I thought about getting one, lol. They were much smaller though and hey, if I’m going to get one, it might as well be the big one, right?

I hope all went well for your dad!

xoxo
Bella

Farmeress December 30, 2009 at 12:18 am

Last year & this, The Christmas Story movie house in Cleveland had an online charity auction with the winner given 2 nights in the house and the chance to relive some of the scenes for themselves. A particularly enthusiastic young fellow paid over $4,000 for the experience as the movie meant so much to him!…Not only a generous fellow…he added a bit of spice and lots of what’s naughty and nice to the former movie set as seen in this link http://www.wkyc.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=127538

Troy January 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Hey…. wheres the stove i think i speak for all of us and ask to see the stove.. i cant find any pictures of the stove. my family bought a stove and the people that sold it to us said its the stove from the christmas story. i want to find out if its true.

Joyce May 10, 2011 at 12:41 am

Isn’t that the stove in the 3rd still? I grew up in Hammond. THIS house is wonderful – the real house in Hammond is dismal & uncared for. Not nearly as charming as the one in the movie. As a former Hammond citizen, I keep thinking they will do something one day with the potential asset. In the middle of the last century, I attended a pre-K summer school program in the last-standing building left from the original Harding Elementary School ‘Ralphie’ went to. It was an old gym-type building with numerous giant, paned windows that could still be pushed open with one of those long sticks with the strange hook on the end for the purpose. The morning dew was still on, the birds were singing thru the open windows – the whole room was a great golden oak sunbean. It was a very early summer morning & I can hear “John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith (da da da da da da da)” still echoing as we sang with the piano banging about in that big hall. That’s the very last of Jean Shepherd’s world I knew. They have a modern structure named after him as a community center, but otherwise that’s all. Perhaps someone will wise up one day in Hammond. The plot of land the school stood on is still empty – ideas anyone? No? Ho Hum. Local government.

Jessica August 26, 2011 at 2:07 am

Hello. This house still sits there in exactly the same shape. I found a page on facebook of people who have actually visited it. It is a museum now. It’s cool you should look it up!

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