It’s been 30 years since the PBS classic home-makeover show “This Old House” first aired (beat that, HGTV). Veteran to the show and carpenter extraordinaire Norm Abram had never seen a house as bad as the one he faced this year in Roxbury, Mass. — well, almost.
“Norm and I walked around it early on, and he’s got all the institutional memory going back to the very first episode, and it was a toss-up of which was worse — the Roxbury project or one we did a few years ago in D.C.,” explains host Kevin O’Connor of the dilapidated house, which had been completely abandoned before it was purchased by the City of Boston and a local non-profit, Nuestra Comunidad Development Corp. The house was awarded to two deserving families.
O’Connor says that this difficult project is particularly potent during a time when the housing market is suffering.
“We thought the story could resonate with people in terms of what could possibly happen to a neighborhood when you have large-scale foreclosures,” he says, noting that as production of the show went on, the crew noticed more remodeling projects popping up in the neighborhood — a possible sign of light at the end of the tunnel.