Season 20: Key West, FL
Premieres on PBS
February 6th, 1999
Seven half-hour episodes; Programs #1820-1826
Our host and master carpenter find paradise at the end of the famed U.S. Route 1—Key West, Florida. Along the island's back streets they discover their latest renovation challenge, a Conch captain's house built by a shipwright in 1866. Over the course of seven new episodes, they will team up with homeowner , who will also serve as the project's architect, to expand the vintage structure and refine its interior and exterior details.
Watch and learn: A history of Key West architecture as embodied in the subject house.
After catching the famous Mallory Square sunset the evening before, the TOH team gets to work, first checking in with general contractor Roger Townsend to see the jobsite's progress while our master carpenter visits the local lumberyard to look at some of the building materials Key Westers use to beat the elements and stay true to local architectural traditions. Homeowner/architect Michael Miller takes us on a tour of one of his projects, an old Conch cottage converted into a library and guest room. Its porch is quintessential Key West—tongue-and-groove painted decking, simple columns, full dimension exposed rafters and beadboard ceiling—and serves as a model for what Michael and Helen want to do to their back porch. Back on site, excavator Ray Vanyo starts digging the pool, only to come across a buried cistern and a floating .
Watch and learn: The best materials to build with in semi-tropical and hurricane-prone climates.
The show opens at one of Key West's most popular destinations, Harry Truman's "Little White House," where the President visited for many years after having originally been sent to the island to recover from a severe cold and exhaustion. Our heating and plumbing expert gives HVAC contractor Charlie Roberts a walk-through of the high-velocity, flexible-duct air conditioning package, making its debut in Key West. Out back, pool excavator Ray Vanyo continues to struggle with the challenge of working in a confined space. Back at the jobsite, homeowner Michael Miller shows us his plans for the new library. Finally, our four Northerners sneak off to watch the sailboats battle it out in the Key West Race Week heats.
Watch and learn: Innovations in water conservation.
The show opens at Truman Annex, a planned community on land that was formerly Key West's naval station. Later in the show, we tour another planned community, the town of , with architect Graham Gund. A Disney venture, it was built from scratch over the last four years, with the participation of some of the world's best-known architects. Back at the project house, Roger Townsend shows us the fully framed great room and the nearly complete rough plumbing and electrical work, as he awaits inspections before the insulation crew arrives. Homeowner Michael Miller finally makes his decision about the back porch: take it down and rebuild it in a style more in keeping with the rest of the house. Finally, we check out lap-siding Key West-style, and the foam insulation, another island first, starts to go in.
Watch and learn: Porch construction and building and community development.
The show opens on board one of Key West's biggest industries—cruise ships. The TOH team takes a tour of Carnival's Ecstasy, in port for the day. Back at the house, a glazier cuts and beds restoration glass—mouth-blown, like glass from the 1800s—in the new replacement sash. Outside, lead carpenter Bev Horlick and crew use 3"x4" rafters to frame up the new porch roof, a crew sprays concrete to form up the new pool. Then we take a ride up to Savannah, Georgia, to tour the millwork shop that is building the library cabinets to homeowner Michael Miller's specifications. The show ends with us checking out the new skylight.
Watch and learn: Building fine cabinetry and considerations for insulating island homes.
Just as they're getting used to all the sunshine, the crew realizes it's almost time to wrap up the Key West project. The activity on-site is intense. Window installer Charles Malta reviews the options in balancing the traditional sash he's installing—vinyl with springs, tube, tape and good old prop sticks. We see the Italian-made kitchen going in and admire its style, mechanics and ease of installation. Afterward, the molded urethane window trim is applied in the dining room. In the library, we see the first of the cabinets to arrive from Savannah and then takea tour of an exquisitely restored and furnished Key West "eyebrow" house. Back on site, the flooring contractor inlays the river-recovered heart pine floor with a diamond pattern of rare curly pine. With a thunderstorm quickly approaching, we watch v-crimp metal roofing go on the new rear roof.
Watch and learn: How to install metal roofing.
On our last day in Key West, viewers get a look at the new pool, its cleaning system and the heat pump that both heats and cools it. (Key Westers have to chill down their pools during the brutal summers.) Inside, we see the handiwork of tileman Tom Lapp, who is putting the finishing touches on a beautiful entryway of black and white, concrete Cuban tiles. Outside, painter Perry Fergus and crew are using a latex topcoat for the house's body and trim, and a high-gloss oil for the new shutters. Viewers then visit the local shop where they were made. Back at the house, lead carpenter Bev Horlick installs the first of several mahogany French doors made by the same shop, using heavy brass hinges and tarnish-proof handles. Our host checks out the new landscaping with contractor Mari Blair, who has used a variety of native plants, an irrigation system and low-voltage lighting. Our master carpenter agrees with homeowner Michael Miller that rushing the cabinetry in the library is not a good idea, then checks in with electrical contractor Will Benson to see a dimmable incandescent strip that provides even uplighting along the great room's valence. Also on site are halogen wallwashers to highlight artwork and handmade brass lanterns that echo the house's sea-faring roots. Homeowner Helen Colley shows off her completed galley kitchen, Richard tours the completed master suite and the wrap party begins.