In 1975 producer Russell Morash hired the Silva Brothers to build a garden for his PBS show, The Victory Garden. Seeing their work and meeting the Silvas, Morash was inspired to create a show about home renovations. Today there are numerous such shows, but then the idea was very new and very risky. In 1979 the production company purchased, renovated and resold a small home for their first series, and the show's enormous popularity drew in viewers, and has ever since.
Each year, the show typically takes on a larger contracting product in the spring and summer, somewhere near Boston, and a smaller project in a friendly clime during the winter months; for these smaller projects, the show often recruits local help, bringing in its well-known experts for just a few episodes to introduce the locals and explain what they're doing.
Several shows, such as The New Yankee Workshop
and Ask This Old House
, owe their existence to this groundbreaking effort.
Kevin meets HFOT community outreach coordinator Chris Mitchell, who explains why community involvement is important. More than 150 local volunteers are laying down the sod, mulching the beds and planting. Closet builder Brian McSharry has been working with the DeWitts on a special design for the master closet, and Norm and Kevin work with Matt to design and build a table for the new dining room. At the end of a long journey, the DeWitts move into their new home.
Recaps29x17: New Orleans Project 01 recap
: Kevin and Norm open in Louisiana, a return visit: This Old House did a project here in 1991. Much has happened since then, the most significant thing being Hurricane Katrina and the consequent floods. Standing atop the flood wall, they show the Lower Ninth Ward, hardest hit by the floods. The once thriving community of families has largely reverted to nature – grassy fields interrupted here and there by slabs that are what remains of the houses. Once home to 450,000, today about half that number live there. Thousands of people await the opportunity to return – once there are sufficient resources and manpower to restore their homes. The next ten episodes of This Old House will showcase one homeowner's effort to restore her shotgun single home. For this they'll partner with volunteers and meet some famous citizens also working to restore the city. One homeowner in particular has waited two years to return home, and with the help of local craftsmen and tradesmen, she'll finally realize that goal... read more.29x16: Newton, MA 16 recap
: Kevin opens the final episode in Newton, Massachusetts from the front porch, which Tom temporarily converted to a workshop. Originally the “Green Monster,” the house has undergone considerable change of the previous eight months. In back, a new shingle-style porch with a standing seam copper roof overlooks a new terraced backyard – far different from the featureless back wall the house once sported. In front, Kevin meets Tom, whose men removed two full trailers of tools and equipment the previous day, clearing the space for Roger Cook and his men to put in the landscaping, a task that required removing a considerable amount of snow and putting down a carpet of sod... read more.29x15: Newton, MA 15 recap
: With a week to go, there’s still a lot of work remaining. The pool table returns today and Tom has a lot of trim work. Because the painters are working right behind him, he has set up a workshop on the front porch, sealed behind plastic to keep the cold at bay... read more.29x14: Newton, MA 14 recap
: Kevin opens in the backyard, where he shows off the bluestone patio with its built-in bench. Climbing down, he talks to a mud-caked Roger, who is supervising the sod installation. Roger’s men first rake and then put down sod. An inch of rain the previous day required tarp protection, and plywood prevents soil compaction as the men walk on those parts of the yard not yet covered with sod. Roger tries to enlist Kevin, but Kevin evades sod detail for the kitchen... read more.29x13: Newton, MA 13 recap
: Kevin opens at the project site, talking about the extensive wrap around porch. New Englanders built such porches to capture coastal breezes, and spent a great deal of time there. As Kevin climbs the steps, two men fence! They are the homeowner and his brother, who fenced at the Olympic level, and have the medals to prove it, from various competitions including prize medals from the Pan-Am games... read more.