Tens of thousands of guests tour A Christmas Story House in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood each year — especially this time of year. Some of them stay the night in the working-class home-turned-celebrity along with the Bumpus House, at left, thanks to the holiday-themed movie. Both were renovated by owners Brian and Beverly Jones to look like they did in the movie (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM
Tourist site may fetch ‘millions’
That little house on Cleveland Street is on the market just in time for the holiday season and the release of a sequel to the 1983 classic movie “A Christmas Story.” And just like one of Ralphie’s father’s silly puzzles, “This one could be worth 50,000 bucks.” But the house isn’t on Cleveland Street, it’s not merely the house that’s for sale and the campus of seven properties is likely to fetch multiples of $50,000. Indeed, according to some real estate insiders, it could go for dozens of times more. Dare we say “A major award”?
A Christmas Story House & Museum (ACSH), 3159 W. 11th St. in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood south of downtown is the centerpiece of a campus that’s grown over the last 18 years to 1.3 acres. The centerpiece, of course, is the 2,152-square-foot house built in 1895 where movie character Ralphie Parker lived in the 1940s and dreamed of getting for Christmas an “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.”
The campus also includes the 1,935-square-foot, 19th-century Bumpus House next door which was renovated in 2018 and can be booked for overnight stays — as can ACSH. Across West 11th is the 4,000-square-foot ACSH gift shop and museum. The museum features the largest collection of original costumes, props, behind-the-scenes photos and other items from the movie including a 1937 Oldsmobile Touring Sedan used in the film and a 1939 Ford LaFrance fire truck similar to the one in the movie.
Inside the gift shop are plenty of souvenirs available for purchase, including clothing, trinkets and DVDs. The gift shop dates from 1895-1910 but was renovated and expanded in 2013, property records show. There are also several other parcels that avail off-street public parking in this densely populated neighborhood and provide room for future expansion, according to real estate broker Chad Whitmer, a sales associate at Akron-based commercial realtor Hoff & Leigh which has the for-sale listing.
And you thought A Christmas Story House was just….a house? It’s actually five buildings and seven parcels of land totaling 1.3 acres. This map has north at the top. The largest parcel east, or right, of West 11th Street has the Bumpus House and a parking lot for it and the fabled house next door, immediately south. Across West 11th, the largest parcel has the ACSH museum and gift shop (MyPlace.CuyahogaCounty.us/KJP).
“Homes in the area remain very affordable and could be acquired to provide even further room for expansion,” he notes. “There is no other place like A Christmas Story House and Museum. The home is the focal point of the most beloved Christmas movie, with a cult-like following. No other filming location provides fans with a real-world connection to their favorite movie.”
Owners Brian Jones and his wife Beverly of California acquired ACSH on eBay in 2004 for a mere $150,000, fixed it up so it could start hosting tours in 2006 and expanded the campus over the next dozen years. The ACSH Campus originally contained nine buildings on 10 parcels, Whitmer said. But through renovations, expansions and lot consolidations, the campus now has five buildings on seven parcels.
There are also two public parking lots and one private lot for ACSH staff. Additional on-street parking surrounds the campus. Whitmer says adjacent residences offer room for further expansion. According to a summary issued by Whitmer, expansions that were under consideration by Wilson include a Santa Mountain Replica, Pulaski’s Candy Store, Bo Ling’s Chinese Restaurant, additional overnight rentals and additional parking.
Taken together, all of the ACSH properties were appraised by Cuyahoga County for tax purposes at $1 million. But a real estate insider who spoke to NEOtrans off the record said the county does not take into account premiums from the novelty of a property or the revenues that can be generated by it. “The revenue that’s taken in by A Christmas Story House, including the tours, gift shop and lodging plus the expansion possibilities easily puts the potential value of the deal at several million dollars,” he said.
Across West 11th Street from A Christmas Story House is a gift shop and museum with props from the 1983 movie. It includes two late-1930s-vintage vehicles — an Oldsmobile Touring Sedan used in the movie and a Ford LaFrance fire engine like the one that delivered firemen to rescue Flick and his tongue from the frozen metal pole after a triple-dog dare (Google).
That’s quite a value change from the first few years of ACSH when it was surrounded by many decayed houses, some of them vacant and a few with roofs falling in and lacking any windows. According to county property records, houses in this neighborhood, separated by Interstate 490 from the wealthier part of Tremont, typically sold for $15,000-$30,000 at the turn of the century. Today, those same houses, once renovated, are selling for 10 times as much. ACSH is a big reason why — it brought more public attention to this neighborhood, the insider said.
More than 1 million guests have visited ACSH since opening in 2006, according to Whitmer. The house currently averages more than 75,000 annual paying guests with many more visiting the attraction and gift shop. On its Top Attractions in Cleveland, TripAdvisor ranks ACSH its fourth-most popular. It also has high ratings among reviewers on TripAdvisors, Google and Facebook.
“The house is a Ward 12 gem and a major economic engine,” said City Councilwoman Rebecca Maurer on Twitter. “I hope whoever buys it continues to be a good neighbor in Tremont. And yes, my dream is cooperative ownership of this institution by the neighborhood so that profits are reinvested here.”
Regardless of who ultimately buys the beloved house and what they do with it, along with the expansion properties, it’s doubtful that anyone wants them to shoot their eye out, kid. Hopefully, the sale of this storied house will have a happy ending and lead to many more merry Christmases to come.