March 28, 2017

DETROIT — Fans of This Old House saw firsthand how their team transformed a small abandoned house in Detroit into a beautiful home for the Polk family and, in the process, put a stake in the ground for neighborhood revitalization in the city.

In celebration of the broadcast premiere of This Old House-Detroit on April 3, Detroit Public Television (DPTV) held a community conversation followed by a Toolkit Party on March 24 on University of Detroit Mercy’s McNichols for nearly 500 guests, featuring the talent from the show: host Kevin O’Connor along with Tom Silva and Richard Trethewey, and a special visit by PBS’ President Paula Kerger.  

The event in Detroit Mercy’s Student Center Building kicked off at 6:30 p.m. with an interview with University President Dr. Antoine Garibaldi talking about how the University and Live6 are working with the City and local businesses to help strengthen Northwest Detroit and the neighborhood. The show was hosted by award-winning journalist, Christy McDonald and Detroit 67 Project Director Marlowe Stoudamire. They were also joined by the new homeowners Frank and Tamiko Polk, City of Detroit Planning Director Maurice Cox, Director of Public Affairs at the Detroit Land Bank Authority Craig Fahle and Detroit realtor Lolita Haley discussing their experiences.  While the one-hour program was live streaming on the web, it was also scheduled to air on Channel 56 on Thursday, March 30 at 9 p.m. Video of the program is available at or below. 

After the capacity town hall meeting, guests were invited to the Toolkit Party to meet This Old House talent and enjoy food and refreshments. All funding for the event was provided by MASCO and Channel 56 sponsors.

For the first time in the history of the show, This Old House traveled outside of the Boston/New England area and chose Detroit last summer to work with retired firefighter Frank Polk as he and his family renovated a classic brick home in the City.  The 1939 two-story property was one of thousands of abandoned structures owned by the Detroit Land Bank. The family recently purchased the Russell Woods neighborhood house at auction with the promise they would make improvements and move in.

The work completed included a new roof, kitchen and baths, plus new mechanicals to replace vandalized equipment in the basement. The team also looked to preserve historic details such as leaded stained glass windows and archways as the homeowners blended their modern aesthetics with the home’s historic details.

Leading up to the broadcast premiere of This Old House on April 3, viewers were invited to check out a special “Detroit. One House at a Time” digital series and get to know the inspiring people—and city—behind TOH’s newest project. Episodes are available now on