Old Homes Restored

Since the premiere of 'This Old House' on public television in 1978, American television viewers can’t seem to get their fill of shows about the structures we live in and call home.

September 30, 2000


Sean Pratt


Since the premiere of "This Old House" on public television in 1978, American television viewers can’t seem to get their fill of shows about the structures we live in and call home. No matter what kind of homes these shows feature -- brand new or antique, cottages or mansions, affordable or fantasy -- loyal viewers are apt to tune in several times each week for their fix of information, ideas and inspiration. The newest entry in this popular genre devoted to housing is "Old Homes Restored" (OHR), a half-hour magazine format show produced by the NAHB. Sean Pratt, an actor and former professional carpenter, serves as host of the show, which premiered earlier this month on Home & Garden TV (HGTV) and airs every Sunday at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.

The weekly series features restoration and renovation projects, completed and under construction, from across the country, and favors houses that were built more than 30 years ago. "We’ll be covering historic homes as well as more generic older homes, so long as the renovations don’t compromise the home’s original architectural design or character," says Spence Levine, the senior producer for "OHR". "The home is the ‘star’ of the show," according to Levine, "though we place high importance on getting to know the homeowner as well as the contractor, craftsmen, architect, and other players through interviews and observing them doing their job." Each episode also offers how-to and problem-solving segments for viewers looking for up-close, hands-on advice on smaller, more manageable renovations.

During its first season, "OHR" travels to Louisville, Ky., where the 200-year-old Woodland Farm undergoes a world-class restoration; to Hillsboro, Va., for the rebirth of a log cabin camouflaged under wood siding; and to Seattle, Wash., for a high-tech retrofit of an early Twentieth Century Arts and Crafts bungalow, to name a few of the series’ nationwide locations.

An eponymous one-hour special, which served as the pilot for the new series, aired last spring and again in the summer on HGTV. Impressed by the large audience that the special attracted during its two showings and pleased with the success of the "Dream Builders" series that NAHB also produces for HGTV, the network gave the go-ahead to expand the special into a regular series.

"Dream Builders," NAHB’s first venture into weekly television, debuted in 1996. It showcases new homes and rates as one of HGTV’s most popular shows. In an unsolicited review of the more than 50 original programs on HGTV, the Wall Street Journal singled out only three shows for distinction, including "Dream Builders."

"Both shows contribute to NAHB’s goal of enhancing the industry’s image," says Jan Williams, CGR, NAHB Remodelors Council chair, "and provide an unprecedented opportunity to deliver our message about remodeling and home building to the millions who tune in each week."

HGTV, now distributed to more than 60 million U.S. households, serves a $4.1 trillion market and is one of the fastest-growing networks. Call Bryan Patchan at NAHB (800) 368-5242, Ext. 212, to recommend projects that are suitable for the show.

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