Legend has it that the film and its title was inspired a student film director Wes Craven made at a former fraternity house on Elm Street in Potsdam. Craven taught at Clarkson University in Potsdam for several years in the 1960s.
On his website, Craven denies the connection. Still, it remains part of local lore. It's even mentioned on the village's website. A Facebook-based movement to preserve the building won almost 8,000 fans.
But the so-called "Nightmare on Elm Street House" was in disrepair and had been condemned. Today it's being torn down. Local historian John Michaud led the effort to preserve the building. He met David Sommerstein outside the Nightmare on Elm Street House.
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From Wes Craven's website FAQs:
Question: I heard a rumor that the idea for "Nightmare on Elm Street" might have come from a student movie involving Elm Street in my hometown of Potsdam, New York. True?
Wes Craven: No, I'm afraid not. You know, when I was teaching, I bought a camera and we shot a film up there called "The Searchers", I think we called it. It was a bunch of students, noticed I had a camera and I didn't know what I was doing, thought I was just fooling around. They asked me to help them start a film club which we did, and then we made a 45-minute-long little action picture. Very crude, we didn't know what we were doing, really. We showed it at the school and all the surrounding schools. We made our budget back about four or five times over. And that was when I got the bug for making movies. At the end of that year I quit my job and went down to New York and started trying to get into the film business.