This Old House DC

I’ve been following the Emmy Award-winning PBS classic This Old House for more years then I care to admit. Created by Russell Morash in 1979 and originally produced by WGBH in Boston, many of the earliest shows featured projects around Massachusetts and in the Boston area. Later renovations were completed in such distant locations as Hawaii and London.

The latest series focuses on a 130-year-old rowhouse on 6th Street NW. For years prior to the renovation the townhouse was in rough shape, abandoned and condemned, heavily damaged by fire and occupied by drug users. Located in the Shaw neighborhood of the Mount Vernon Square historic district, the site is just one block east of the Washington Convention Center and four blocks north of the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station (map).

When I went for a look earlier today I wasn’t exactly expecting to run into Norm and the rest of the TOH team there. In actuality, the project is already complete. The final episode airs May 16th and the one I watched on Saturday featured a ribbon cutting ceremony with DC mayor Anthony A. Williams, although the crew was still finishing up many of the last minute details.

Though I am not familiar with the neighborhood, it appeared as if the project has sparked a gentrification of the area. I noticed several homes on the same block that are in various stages of improvement.

And that, as they say, is a wrap.

5 Comments so far

  1. Jenn L (unregistered) on May 8th, 2006 @ 11:03 am

    I’m so glad you posted this – I meant to watch for the show when I read about it in the Post back in February but completely forgot! I’ll have to try and catch it now – I’m also renovating a Victorian…

    Here’s some crazy background – this house was bought for $1 by nonprofit org Mi Casa to be sold at under market price for $250,000 to a low/moderate income family. There are properties in Shaw selling for $900,000 (well, listed at that price anyway).

    This particular project may have raised awareness of the renovation going on in that area, but it isn’t the catalyst for the gentrification – that’s been going on in pockets and waves for the past six years or more.

  2. Doug (unregistered) on May 8th, 2006 @ 11:33 am

    Thanks for the additional information about the neighborhood Jenn. Like I said, it was the first time I’d visited the area and don’t know much about it. After all these years, it was interesting to actually see one of these projects. I should have gone while the work was ongoing, meeting Norm would have been awesome!

  3. massysett (unregistered) on May 8th, 2006 @ 1:37 pm

    My understanding from the WGBH days was that they would do two projects a year. The summertime project was in Boston; the wintertime project was in a warm place like Florida or Hawaii to escape the Boston winter. But that was a few years ago; this may have changed since WGBH sold the franchise.

  4. Doug (unregistered) on May 8th, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Florida connection had something to do with the original host Bob Vila, who is a Miami native.

  5. Doug (unregistered) on May 8th, 2006 @ 1:58 pm

    From this list of projects from 1980-1989 you can see there were only three outside of Massachusetts in the early years. The first was in Tampa in ’86, followed by one in Phoenix in ’87 and another in Santa Barbara in ’88.

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