The Cronin Family lived in the Italian Villa style home for 130 years, and all the wonder and glamour of the house inspired a novel by a young Marshall native, that is being turned into a Hollywood movie.
The Cronin Home has long been something to marvel at along Madison Street in Marshall. "The House with A Clock in its Walls" was written in 1973 by John Bellairs who remembers riding his bike past the house, and wondering what lie inside it’s walls. The popular book is now being made into a movie of the same name starring Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.
"This house popped up, and I said that's totally the house. So I put a contract on the house, flew up, saw it, and have been in love with it ever since,” said Jeff Hamilton. “I love that it was unremuddled. The same family had lived her from when they built it to 2003. it still has gas pipes in the walls, it was like frozen in time."
From 1873 until 2003, the Cronin Family lived in the home until the last of the Cronin sisters passed away. Then the home went into disrepair until it caught the eye of Hamilton, a real estate developer from Florida.
Hamilton had a lot of work to do before the house was inhabitable. He said the floors were warped, paint was cracking everywhere, and 22 of the 23 furnaces inside the home had burst.
After two years of hard work, the home is restored to the same house that fueled the fantastical wonderment of a young author.
"Once you read the book, if you're familiar with Marshall, you'll see places within Marshall in the book. You'll recognize, if you've been in the house, the house in the book. It's very clear. (Bellairs has) been in the house. It made a big impression on him as a kid," Hamilton said.
The book, now movie, is a fantasy thriller that involves magic and witchcraft. Hamilton said he doesn't believe the house is haunted, but said he can feel the spirit of the Cronin sisters within. He recalls one night talking about removing a 110 foot tall poplar tree from the yard, and feeling another worldly force weigh in on the decision.
"We're talking about this tree having to come out of the front yard. I said, 'Yeah, I might have to cut that down.' And right as I said that, the light came off. Jokingly, I said, 'Sorry ladies, I'll keep the tree,' the ladies being the two sisters who lived here. The minute I said that, the light came back on."
The city of Marshall is planning some big events around the movie premiere in the next few weeks, including an advanced screening and other activities celebrating the town of Marshall and the work of Bellairs.