This Old House: Through the decades

This Old House: Through the Decades

“This Old House” is the longest-running home improvement show on PBS. Each season features one to three whole-house renovations with in-depth instructions walking viewers through each step of the construction process.  

Season 45 is airing now on Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. Tune in to watch the renovations of the Lexington Modern and Glen Ridge Generational houses. The owners of the Lexington Modern, a 1960s Massachusetts house, are looking to modernize and expand the home to make it more accessible for their son. Meanwhile, the Glen Ridge, New Jersey home is being restored to its Victorian-era glory while making room for generations to come.  

With almost 90 home renovations over the past 45 years, “This Old House” continues to be a fan favorite — and now the only place to watch it on traditional TV is on PBS stations like KAMU.  

1980s 

Original host and contractor of This Old House in 1979

  • “This Old House” debuted in 1979. The home improvement show’s first host was builder and designer Bob Vila, who hosted the program from 1979-1989. Season 1 focused solely on the renovation of The Dorchester House, a Victorian-style home in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and was the project that started it all.   
  • A year later, “This Old House” went from being a locally-aired program to a national one. The 13-episode season walked viewers through the home renovation process from start to finish with each episode focusing on a different aspect of the home.   
  • The first decade of “This Old House” produced 11 seasons, with Season 11 ending in September 1989. 

1990s 

This Old House contractors standing in front of UK flag

  • The next decade of “This Old House” kicked off with the renovation of an 1895 house in New Orleans and the Jamaica Plain House, a triple-decker home turned into rental apartments in collaboration with Boston’s Public Facilities Department.  
  • This season also introduced a new host, Steve Thomas, an author and builder who hosted the show through the ’90s and into the early 2000s.  
  • In 1992, “This Old House” tackled its first international renovation, further expanding its reach and popularity by fixing up a flat in London.   
  • In 1995 the “This Old House” magazine hit the stands and published new issues eight times a year. The archive of the “This Old House” magazine can now be accessed digitally by This Old House Insider members.

2000s 

Cast of "Ask This Old House"

  • The early 2000s introduced viewers to two spin-off shows aiming to reach more homeowners.  
  • Ask This Old House” first aired in 2002 and was inspired by the “This Old House” magazine. The spin-off is still going strong, and is currently airing Season 22.  
  • A second spin-off show titled “Inside This Old House” aired from 2003-2004. This program expanded on topics covered in “This Old House” episodes and provided commentary on past projects.   
  • 2003 also introduced current host of “This Old House” and host of both spin-off shows, Kevin O’Connor.

2010s 

Generation NEXT apprentices at construction site

  • 2016 brought about the Generation NEXT apprenticeship program. This program aimed to raise money for scholarships and awareness about skilled labor shortages. Apprentices from the program have made appearances in Seasons 39, 41 and 42.   
  • In 2017 the franchise aired yet another spin-off show, “This Old House: Trade School.” The program aired three seasons from 2017-2020. “TOH: Trade School” focused on vocational education in the field of home renovation featuring step-by-step instructions and detailed demonstrations.  
  • In 2019 the franchise launched “Clearstory,” a podcast aimed to shed light on the stories behind the homes featured on the TV program. The name of the podcast is a play on clerestory windows, which shed light onto a space.  

2020s

House being rebuilt after wildfires

  • Season 41 and the start of the current decade of “This Old House” began with a series of home reconstructions following the 2018 California wildfires. Homeowners in Paradise, California had to wait a year before they could rebuild their homes. Three homeowners and their families made it their mission to rebuild their homes despite the challenges.   
  • Season 42 started off with a special four-part series titled “Behind the Build.” This series focuses on the craftspeople, designs and manufacturers that bring old homes new life.  
  • In 2022, master carpenter Norm Abram’s 43-year career came to an end. In honor of his retirement, “This Old House” released a one-hour tribute titled “The House That Norm Built” featuring archive footage, highlights and memories from colleagues. 
  • The newest addition to the “This Old House” franchise was introduced just this year. The new spin-off show “Dime Cómo Hacerlo,” or the Spanish version of “Ask This Old House,” launched in April and aims to teach homeowners everything they need to know to successfully renovate their homes. 

The next season of “This Old House” begins Oct. 2, but in the meantime check out the live webcam for a look at the project in real-time or scroll through finished projects from previous seasons here.  You can also catch up on past episodes of the Clearstory podcast here and visit the seasonal checklist for monthly tips and tricks on keeping your home up to date

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