CLEVELAND — The “A Christmas Story House & Museum” is a piece of Cleveland history that, in a relatively short period of time has grown, into one of the city’s best-known tourist attractions, drawing visitors annually from all over the world. From West 11th Street on Monday though there was something that was jumping out at those tourists even more than the leg lamp — “for sale” signs.
“I want to buy it,” joked one woman visiting the site. Most were surprised at the site of the signs, which you clearly can’t miss.
“Didn’t even know that it could be for sale, I thought it was like a state museum type thing,” said Ryan Henkes of Dayton. No, it is privately owned, and yes, they can sell it, says Chad Whitmer, the realtor handling the deal for Hoffman Lee Commercial Real Estate.
“We’re putting the house up for sale. Ralphie’s house,” Whitmer told News 5. “It’s time for something new, the owners are looking for a new venture, a new chapter in life and move on.”
And it’s not just Ralphie’s house — this package includes a total of seven properties they’ve acquired in this neighborhood over the last 18 years.
“It’s a whole operation, you know, what you see here — there’s the museum, the Bumpus’ House, gift shop, some parking lots,” Whitmer said.
The success of this whole enterprise mirrors the success of the movie itself. You’ll remember the film did little at the box office when it was released in 1983 and didn’t become a cult classic until years later. In much the same way, the house and neighborhood really didn’t become a tourist attraction until years after that. In fact, it was pretty much an afterthought until 2004.
“The house came up for sale on eBay. I couldn’t believe somebody was selling it,” owner Brian Jones told News 5 in 2006, recalling how he put in his bid of $150,000 from California without ever seeing the place.
“I bought it within a day. I was like, ‘I gotta have that. That’s really cool,'” Jones said.
He would pump more than $200,000 more into it, gutting it and converting it from an up-and-down duplex into the iconic home of Ralphie as it looked in the movie.
“I just didn’t want it to fade away and be unrecognizable,” he said.
In November 2006, the “A Christmas Story House and Museum” opened. Over the next 15 years, Jones would acquire the other properties.
There’s also been a transformation of the neighborhood itself, fueled in part by the museum’s foundation, which raises funds from the “A Christmas Story” 5K &10K runs that provide grants for exterior renovation projects in this immediate neighborhood. It’s an effort that in its first seven years raised over $620,000.
Johnny Photinos, who was visiting the House on Monday, said the “for sale” signs made him sad. As for what he hopes happens?
“Just like it is, nothing changes, nothing changes,” he said.
That will be up to the buyer, Whitmer said.
“The new owner’s going to be able to take it in whatever direction they see fit,” he said. “It’s hard to say what that is, but the hope is they carry this on and actually make it bigger and better and make it an even bigger attraction for the city of Cleveland.”
As for the asking price, Whitmer wouldn’t say, other than to label it “pretty significant.”
Tours and overnight stays that have been scheduled will continue at this time.
To view the listing, click here.