"This Old House" Press Release

[excerpts from TOH project description] This Old House (TOH) plans the return to life of a 130-year-old classic rowhouse. A condemned townhouse will become a 3-bed, 2-bath beauty.

Every house we renovate has its history and its challenges, but the Washington, D.C., house might top its predecessors.

When we first saw it, the dilapidated two-story rowhouse—just 10 blocks from the White House—had been occupied by squatters and crack addicts for years. Intense fires had blackened the inside brick, scarred the joists, and caused major structural damage. The neighborhood itself is edgy, with pockets of gentrification.

A nonprofit organization called Mi Casa now owns the building. They buy and renovate city buildings and sell them at below-market rates to families of modest means. The brick Italianate shell will become a three-bedroom, two-bath home for a first-time homeowner.

Among the tasks scheduled are:

Restoring the front facade to its original, historic quality. Specialists will work on the ironwork and masonry, and a missing slate-covered turret will be put back on the building's roof
Recreating historic details of the house's Victorian entryway and ornamental ceiling medallions
Eliminating the water-damaged interior stair and creating a new functional-yet-elegant semi-circular staircase
Adding modern amenities like a fully appointed kitchen, central air, and a laundry room
Laying out rooms whose functions flow from formal to informal as one moves to the rear of the house
Lowering the basement floor by a foot and pouring a concrete slab to make it habitable
Building an inviting garden in the back in which to escape noisy urban life
Designing the interior to create a warm and inviting environment for a future homeowner

"This project is very timely," says show host Kevin O'Connor. "Urban vitalization is at an all-time high." It doesn't hurt that the job "reflects This Old House's dedication to giving back to the community."

The 2,950-square-foot single-family townhouse was built around 1879, not 15 years since the Civil War had lapped at Washington's horizon. The original building has been described as unpretentious yet graceful. It's located in the Shaw neighborhood, within the Mount Vernon Square historic district, an area that has been a hub of African-American cultural life since the late 19th century. Among the neighborhood's famous sons was Duke Ellington.

"This project was exciting, because it allowed me to work with elements that one does not see in today's modern construction," said Kate Dieterich, allied ASID and owner of Simply Sage Interiors of Purcellville, VA. "Having been asked to participate by our ASID chapter president, this allowed me to help inform and educate people on things to consider when renewing a storied residence."

Kate Dieterich will be seen in episode #'s: 2522, 2523, 2524 airing on your local PBS station this March, 2006. Washington, DC station WETA airs TOH on Saturday mornings at 9:00 am.