The Michigan House that Inspired “The House With a Clock in Its Walls”
If you saw the 2018 Jack Black film “The House With a Clock in Its Walls”, you might not be aware that the creepy house in the film was based on a house here in Michigan.
The house is a classic (but creepy) Italian-villa-type mansion, built in 1872 by Jeremiah Cronin, Jr., and can be found at 407 N. Madison Street in Marshall (SEE PHOTOS BELOW).
The book “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” was written by Marshall native John Bellairs and released in 1973. The hero of this children’s thriller was ‘Lewis Barnavelt’, a ten-year-old who tinkers with magic years before anyone ever heard of Harry Potter.
Bellairs was born in Marshall in 1938 and unfortunately passed away in 1991, twenty-seven years before his story would be made into a major motion picture. He grew up fascinated with the Cronin mansion. As a kid, he and his neighborhood buddies were spellbound by the mansion and were curious about what the inside looked like…..and what went on in there. At the time, the house was still inhabited by members of the Cronin family, in particular the Cronin Sisters.
The movie, starring Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, and Kyle MacLachlan, was released on September 21, 2018. IMDB.com describes the movie:
Ten-year-old Lewis goes to live with his oddball uncle in a creaky old house that contains a mysterious `tick tock' noise. He soon learns that Uncle Jonathan and his feisty neighbor, Mrs Zimmerman, are powerful practitioners of the magic arts. When Lewis accidentally awakens the dead, the town's sleepy facade suddenly springs to life, revealing a secret and dangerous world of witches, warlocks and deadly curses.
The house is part of Marshall’s Historic Home Tour, and has its own Historical Marker. It reads:
This picturesque residence was erected in 1872 for Marshall merchant Jeremiah Cronin Jr. and his wife Susan. Local contractor Frederick N. Church constructed this house as well as Cronin’s 1869 commercial block. On September 5, 1872, the Calhoun County Patriot and Democratic Expounder predicted that house would be the “most stylish” in the city. The Italian villa reflects the Cronin family’s standing in the community. When Jeremiah died in 1889, Susan took over the business as the S. E. Cronin Store. Their son Jay became the manager in 1907. By then, the Cronins were operating clothing, grocery and shoe stores and a bakery. Jay Cronin’s daughters operated the business until 1974.
This is something ya gotta see one of these days…take a drive over and see this old house for yourself!