clock menu more-arrow no yes

Fans’ Favorites from Four Decades of This Old House

We asked, and boy, did you answer! From our TOH Insiders to our website users and Facebook followers, loyal This Old House fans eagerly weighed in with what they’ve loved most from the past 40 years. As Kathy Warner of Marietta, GA, told us: “It may be called This Old House, but it never gets old.”

#10 Lexington Ranch

Courtesy of WGBH

SEASON 14 • 1992

Rounding out your top 10 is this 1958 ranch reinvention, which earned kudos for both the “wow” factor and its friendly owners.

“I loved the Lexington Ranch. I grew up in a ranch-style home, so I could relate to it. I also think it’s one of the show’s most amazing transformations, from such a humble, typical American home into something truly spectacular.”

—NATHAN STRUM, VALENCIA, CA

“My favorite house is still the Lexington Ranch, Season 14. That’s because of the incredible design in transforming the ranch; it’s a house that I could imagine living in. Also, I liked the homeowners very much on that project.”

—MICHAEL, VIA INSIDER

#9 Manchester

Photo by Pascal Blancon

SEASON 23 • 2001

The extensive restoration of this 1883 house wasn’t part of the original Top 10 list. But so many of you voted for Manchester-by-the-Sea as a write-in candidate that in the end, it nabbed the No. 9 slot!

“It was a shame that all the very fine details of that home were taken off in earlier remodels, but Norm, Tommy, and the rest of the crew brought that house back to its late-nineteenth-century glory days.”

—PAUL, VIA INSIDER

“Manchester is my favorite. Gorgeous home by the sea. Just loved it!”

—KAREN FLANNERY, NANTUCKET, MA

#8 Cambridge 2012

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

SEASON 34 • 2012

Though this 1887 Queen Anne’s exterior is spectacular, prior renovations had stripped the interior of any semblance of its original era. TOH’s Scandinavian-inspired interior makeover helped it earn spot No. 8.

“We were so inspired by this season that we remodeled an entire house in a Scandinavian-modern theme. It turned out amazing; we owe you!”

—MICHAEL DELANEY, FORT THOMAS, KY

“I liked how they maintained the exterior’s historic character while transforming the interior into a very modern space. Plus, incorporating Swedish design that honored the family’s heritage really made this home their own.”

—TODD, VIA THISOLDHOUSE.COM

#7 Dorchester

Photo by Bill Schwob/WGBH

SEASON 1 • 1979

The house that started it all, a run-down home from 1860 with a mansard roof and plenty of potential, took seventh. More than anything, it’s beloved for being the foundation of This Old House.

“The Dorchester House has to be number one, because it was your first project, and it got me hooked on This Old House right away. Inspiration to do my own projects abounded. Thanks to everyone on the show, past and present, for giving me the motivation to Do It Myself.”

—AL MIRABELLA, DOVER, PA

“I chose Dorchester because it’s where it all started. Without Season 1 you wouldn’t have Season 40. It was the first of its kind.”

—DARRYL LOZINSKI, KITCHENER, ON

#6 Newton

Courtesy of WGBH

SEASON 2 • 1981

The condo conversion of this rambling 1886 Shingle-style house (a.k.a. the Bigelow House, for its original owner) nabbed sixth place.

“Both Dorchester and Bigelow were great, because we got to watch This Old House being invented. But I chose Bigelow because the scope was so ambitious, with this beautiful historical home going from ruins to restoration.”

—MARGARET, VIA THISOLDHOUSE.COM

“I loved the idea of repurposing the old Bigelow place. It’s a way of keeping history alive.”

—TAMMY MINN, RIVERSIDE, CA

“I chose the Newton/Bigelow project for a few reasons. It was the first season of This Old House that I viewed, and I’m a fan of H. H. Richardson’s architecture. And I enjoyed the restoration and repurposing of such a historic home, especially one that was as large and challenging as it was to begin with.”

—DAVID, VIA INSIDER

#5 Billerica

Courtesy of WGBH

SEASON 21 • 1999

No. 5 was a sentimental favorite—you were touched as the This Old House family came together to build a new home for Dick and Sandy Silva after a catastrophic fire.

“If I had to pick one it would be Dick Silva’s home rebuild after the fire in 1999. It really became personal as everybody pitched in. It was a TOH family disaster, and we viewers really felt for the family.”

—BOB HAYNES, MOODY, AL

“I loved the Billerica House. Not only is it a fine house, but it was special since they were building it for Tommy’s brother, who’d just been through a fire. You could tell they were all trying extra-hard to give their coworker and relative a great new home.”

—CHRIS, VIA INSIDER

“I loved watching you do something wonderful for Dickie. It was sad, but with a happy ending.”

—GARY ADAM SR., WINSTON-SALEM, NC

#4 Detroit

Photo by Nathan Kirkman

SEASON 38 • 2017

The 1939 brick home was a charmer, but for many fans, this season wasn’t just about the house. You valued the homeowners’ hard work, the community that came together to help, and the rejuvenation of a great American city.

“My favorite project was Detroit, because people just started showing up and helping.”

—ZACHARY KEAGLE, MONTICELLO, IL

“I really appreciated the time y’all spent in a city with such great housing stock, featuring programs that help get people into the homes, and the graciousness of all the cast and crew!”

—CARL, VIA INSIDER

“I loved how with this project, you helped to bring to light the changes taking place in an almost-forgotten city.”

—DANIEL, VIA THISOLDHOUSE.COM

#3 Cambridge 2005

Photo by Alyssa Thompson

SEASON 27 • 2005

This 1950 mid-century modern—or “George’s house”—was the dark horse, surprising us with its vote tally. But the challenges the house posed, and the techniques and technologies used to remedy them, landed it a top-three slot.

“The unique design and techniques that the team used, and the amazing homeowner, made that season really fun. Plus, I enjoyed seeing a challenge for Roger.”

—TYLER TOMASEK, LINCOLN, NE

“Expanding the radiant heat to the garage, driveway, and walkway was amazing!”

—CHRIS DOUGHMAN, MERRIMACK, NH

“Wonderful interpretation of modern, with great details, amazing layout, and inventive ways to implement the updates.”

—MICHAEL, VIA INSIDER

#2 Carlisle

Photo by Keller + Keller

SEASON 26 • 2004

For the show’s 25th anniversary, This Old House spent an entire season renovating an 1849 farmstead. If your votes are any indication, you loved every minute of it.

“It was a huge project with so many talented people involved, plus it had all different types of renovation, from the newly built master suite to remodeling the barn for a dramatic, livable space that turned out to be fantastic.”

—JON MONTGOMERY, WEST UNION, WV

“Honestly, I’ve found myself rewatching Carlisle from start to finish twice a year since it aired.”

—JAMES HAUN, KNOXVILLE, TN

“Seeing the barn interior made into living quarters, rebuilding the breezeway, the stone quartz flooring—watching the Carlisle project gave me so many ideas.”

—PATRICIA, VIA INSIDER

#1 Concord Barn

Photo by Richard Howard/WGBH

SEASON 11 • 1989

Rebuilt from its rubble-stone foundation up—and featuring an awe-inspiring barn raising—the rebirth of an 1835 barn as a 20th-century timber-frame house took the top spot by a landslide.

“The Concord Barn brought together some fascinating new and old building technologies and mixed them with solid craftsmanship, along with a very likable family in the Wickwires. I became a devoted This Old House fan in the process.”

—JOHN, VIA THISOLDHOUSE.COM

“The barn raising! Watching Tedd Benson and the crew put that barn together was amazing. That project stood out above them all.”

—TIMOTHY, VIA INSIDER

“Loved the mix of the ancient art of timber framing with the modern building methods. It was Steve’s first project, and you could see the beginnings of his chemistry with Norm, Richard, Tommy, and Roger. Tedd Benson and his team added the passion of their craft, along with the wonderful Wickwire family.”

—JOHN SAGELY, FORT SMITH, AR

“Quite simply, Tedd Benson’s timber-frame design and construction, combined with TOH’s master craftsmanship, translates to this house being around for centuries!”

—CHRIS, VIA INSIDER

Family Ties

Courtesy of Vanderlinde Family

For many fans, This Old House feels like home. We’re honored that our family is part of yours.

“I grew up watching This Old House and have passed the love on to my husband and our sons. They were very excited to dress as some of the guys last Halloween. August (above left) was Roger Cook, Heinrich (right) was Tom Silva, and their little brother Sebastian was an apprentice.”

—ALI VANDERLINDE, VIA E-MAIL

“Growing up, our children couldn’t wait for their one special TV show with ‘Bob Biwa.’ ”

—LINDA-MARC HILDEBRANT, VIA FACEBOOK

“I have been a fan since I was 5 years old, watching TOH on the weekends with my dad. I’m 35 now, and I still watch. I have loved Norm and the guys for as long as I can remember. Long live the plaid!”

—ERIN NICHOLS RAHRIG, VIA FACEBOOK

Family Ties

Courtesy of Paul Gonzales

“When I was 8, I asked my dad how he’d learned to fix so many things, and he sat me down to watch This Old House with him. Now I’m 27, and I’ve learned so much from watching that I can take on repairs around the house.”

—PAUL GONZALES, SAN ANTONIO

“While most kids watched cartoons on the weekend, I woke up looking forward to This Old House. Now at 38, I still watch every weekend. And since becoming a homeowner, it’s inspired me to tackle projects.”

—ADAM SCHAFFER, ALLEN PARK, MI

“During my military career, my wife did her best to record the shows and send them to my deployment locations. It gave me and other servicemembers a connection to our lives back home, and a chance to visit with the TOH personalities we all know on a first-name basis.”

—CHRIS, VIA INSIDER

Family Ties

Courtesy of Roger Martinson

“Your magazine has captured the imagination and interest of this young lady, my granddaughter Elida (above). She likes to watch home-improvement shows and give her opinion on what she likes and doesn’t. On our last visit, we dropped off copies of your magazine, and she began looking at them. She enjoys giving advice and ideas to her parents.”

—ROGER MARTINSON, VIA E-MAIL

“This Old House is like meeting up with family each week. Sometimes new members visit, and I love that you’re encouraging young people. As a grandmother, I always enjoy meeting the ‘kids.’ “

—PAM STOCKHAM, ROELAND PARK, KS

“I still remember watching a This Old House episode that must have been from the Dorchester project with my dad on Channel 9 PBS in St. Louis. That was a long time ago. I’m still here, my dad is still here, and so is This Old House. It’s a great show that I have enjoyed watching for almost my whole life. Please keep it up!”

—ANNE, VIA THISOLDHOUSE.COM

Family Ties

Courtesy of Marie Reddy

“Being from Massachusetts, my husband Bill and I were following This Old House from the beginning. Because we’d moved to South Florida, we watched to see the beautiful New England houses come back to life. My husband had Huntington’s disease, and even as his disease progressed he still watched the show. He was overjoyed in 2001 when it was announced that TOH was coming to West Palm Beach, where we lived. We’d take drives down the street to look at the activity, and one day we met Norm and Steve Thomas while they were outside the beautiful house. They were gracious enough to pose for a few photos, and it was a highlight for Bill. My husband has passed away, but the picture of Norm, Steve, and Bill (above) still hangs on our wall.”

—MARIE REDDY, VIA E-MAIL

“My dad moved out to the West Coast years before I was born, but no matter how long he’s lived here, he’s never lost a bit of his Rhode Island accent. Growing up, renovating houses was my typical after-school activity, working with my dad after he got home from his day job. We’ve always enjoyed watching This Old House and Ask This Old House together, whether we’re guessing how to solve problems before you tell us how you did it or trying to beat each other at “What Is It?” At some point I realized that between TOH and my dad, the biggest thing that naturally gets me prepared to learn a new technique is a New England accent!”

—SEAN REYNOLDS, OAKLAND, CA

LOL Moments: Bob Vila

Back in 1979 there wasn’t an acronym for it: You just laughed out loud. Renovating homes is serious business, but the guys have never taken themselves too seriously.

WACKY WARDROBE

“Funniest moment? Bob Vila’s hat in the first season.”

—CHRISTOPHER, VIA INSIDER

LOL Moments: Norm Abram

SECRET LOCATION

“When TOH was in Charlestown in 2000, Norm took the homeowner out to the New Yankee Workshop—but first, Norm blindfolded him so he wouldn’t know where the shop was. The funniest part, though, was at the very end, when they showed the homeowner walking away from the shop by himself—blindfolded again and trying to find his way home! I laughed pretty hard at that.”

—TIMOTHY, VIA THISOLDHOUSE.COM

LOL Moments: Kevin O’Connor

Photo by Kindra Clineff

THE NEW GUY

“Funniest moment for me was Kevin’s first day on the job. Roger greeted Kevin—and scolded him for being late.”

—TONY, VIA INSIDER

“My favorite was Kevin’s first day. He was so nervous!”

—SANDI HAZEN PEEL, DAVENPORT, IA

“I thought Kevin was too young at first, but look at him now!”

—MARYANN MOLAEI, KALAM, WA

Everybody’s Favorites

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

More than a few of you compared choosing a favorite from the TOH gang to being asked to pick among your children, but you weren’t shy about sharing your appreciation for the entire This Old House team.

“Norm Abram is the best example of what teaching should be. He’s a consummate professional, with incredible patience and the willingness to share his vast knowledge. It’s so evident he truly loves what he does, and it’s a love that is infectious.”

—WILLIAM, VIA INSIDER

“All my friends worship Tom Silva. We talk about our current projects and bounce ideas off of each other, but our favorite saying is WWTD: ‘What Would Tom Do?’ Plus, we love it when he gives Kevin a hard time.”

—ANDREW BRETTRAGER, MANHATTAN, IL

“Richard Trethewey is my hero. He’s inspired me to tackle many plumbing jobs. When I replaced the old pipes in my basement, many looked at me like I was crazy when I suggested PEX instead of copper. I just said, ‘They use it on This Old House!’ ”

—JASON KRAMER, CINCINNATI

“Roger Cook is the closer for TOH. He’s often doing most of his work once every other trade has trampled the job site, and everyone’s probably feeling the crunch to get the job finished. But Roger always pulls it together and puts the icing on the cake.”

—ABIGAIL HUGHES, VIA E-MAIL

“Norm, Tom, Rich, and Roger are great, but the other tradespeople featured on the show are just as educational: Jenn Nawada, Mark McCullough, Mauro Henrique, Allen Gallant, Scott Caron, the Ferrante brothers, and all the others who have drilled wells, lifted barns, blasted ledge rock, installed gutters and roofing, skim-coated walls and ceilings, pumped concrete, tested for mold, asbestos, or lead, etc. Plus, a special shout-out to Tedd Benson and the wonders of timber framing!”

—TRACY LOTT, COLORADO SPRINGS, CO

Watch and Learn

Photo by John Tomlin

You might not be working on a whole-house reno, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t learned a thing or two (or 20!) from This Old House.

“About ten years ago, when my wife and I remodeled our home, everything I’d learned by watching came in so handy. We removed walls, raised a floor to level with the rest of the house, built walls, hung drywall, installed a hardwood floor, laid tile flooring, built two decks, insulated an attic, and knew enough to hire electricians and plumbers. I have no formal training, nor did I have a role model in these areas when I was growing up; it’s all due to the shows. Every project I’ve watched on This Old House has given me at least one important lesson, and usually more than three.”

—JERRY, VIA INSIDER

This Old House has given me confidence to tackle projects but it’s also educated me to have meaningful conversations with men and women in the trades, and given me an appreciation for their livelihood. Technology can’t replace the knowledge and guidance of a trustworthy and experienced tradesperson.”

—VIYAN UDAWATTA, COLUMBUS, OH

Watch and Learn

Photo by Sarah Chasse

This Old House gave me the vision to see that I could do home improvements myself, and started me on my DIY journey. I’ve been able to do a number of major remodels myself thanks to TOH. Bob, Norm, Rich, and the rest of the cast showed me everything from reglazing old sashes to building a screen porch to how to take down a wall.”

—DUANE McDONALD, VIA E-MAIL

“As a handyman business owner, I have watched TOH for a long time, and I’ve learned a lot from Tommy and the guys over the years. I learned how to tape off tubs and countertops when I caulked them for a neater job, and the right way to use different tools. Thanks for forty years of construction.”

—GLENN, VIA INSIDER

Watch and Learn

Photo by Joe Yutkins

“When I needed a new roof I used synthetic slate like they used on the Billerica House (and I put it on myself with the help of a friend). I would probably never have known of that product had it not been for TOH. I love that I’ve learned so much over the years, and became a home-improvement junkie, thanks to This Old House.”

—SHERRY HOLTMEYER, COTTAGE GROVE, MN

“My wife and I had our home custom-built, and a highlight of the building experience was choosing precast-concrete basement walls, an idea we’d gotten from watching This Old House. It was quite the sight for our neighbors—and us—as the oversize flatbed truck arrived with an overhead crane and began the installation. Without the TOH seal of approval giving us confidence, we would have just gone with concrete walls poured on-site—and with the weather conditions where we live, who knows how pouring the walls on-site would have gone. Thank you, This Old House!”

—TONY, VIA INSIDER

Watch and Learn

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

“When you showed drawers in the kitchen rather than base cabinets (in the Essex House, pictured), that idea made so much sense to me—and when I had my present house built, I had drawers put in rather than the standard base cabinets. I am happy every time I can grab a pot or pan without having to get down on my knees to reach into a cabinet.”

—EDITH MONTGOMERY, ASHLAND, OR

“Watching these shows helped my wife, Cindy, and me be bold enough to build our own home. We did everything except the excavation, foundation, concrete, and brick, using many of the skills we learned from the show—framing to crown molding, and cabinetry to hardwood floors. This Old House empowered Cindy and me to take on these challenges because ‘regular guys’ showed us it can be done.”

—KURT VOGEL, MARTINSVILLE, IN

“I had a small house from the 1930s with a roof leak. I remembered seeing an episode on installing a cricket. Had my roofer do that, and the leak was fixed!”

—ANITA, VIA INSIDER