This Old House’s Kevin O’Connor and Tom Silva On Fixing Up Historic Detroit Homes

The PBS home improvement show will focus on 1939 Russell Woods house in upcoming season.

Jake Neher/WDET

This Old House was home improvement before home improvement was cool.

The show has been on the public television airways since 1979 and has become one of the most popular programs on PBS.

The new season will premier on PBS on Saturday, October 8th at 9 a.m.

In the second half of the season, the guys head to Detroit to help renovate a brick home in the historic Russell Woods neighborhood.

The home is one of thousands of abandoned structures owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority and sold at auction with the promise that buyers would improve the properties.

Host Kevin O’Connor and This Old House’s general contractor Tom Silva join Detroit Today to talk about the project, the new season, and their experience so far in Detroit.

O’Connor says he’s had two “very strong” impressions since being in Detroit for the last few months.

“The first is, when I started driving around, I don’t think I understood sort of the expanse of the problem – how big it is,” he says. “And the fact that there were so many of these houses that are empty and so many of these neighborhoods that are affected.”

“But then when we settled on our house in Russell Woods… people started showing up, and that was my second impression, which is, wow, these folks just walk right up to you,” he continues. “A very sort of active, a very sort of engaged, enthusiastic response from everyone in the city who’s really psyched that we’re here. And that’s encouraging.”

O’Connor and Silva also talk about the cast and crew’s visit to the childhood home of Detroit Today Host Stephen Henderson, which he is currently working toward fixing up.

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.

Laura Weber Davis/WDET



  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.