EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 25, 2013

Historic Kingston home may be featured on TV show

By Alex Lippa

---- — KINGSTON — Only two weeks ago, the fate of the Grace Daley House seemed bleak. Voters decided to demolish the home rather than spend money on necessary repairs.

But thanks to a well-known television star, the house may be saved — sort of.

Actor Bronson Pinchot, best known for his role in the 1980s and 1990s comedy “Perfect Strangers,” has reached out to the town to see if the 19th-century home could be featured on his new reality show.

“Bronson Pinchot Saves America,” which is still in production, will feature Pinchot dismantling historic homes and using the materials to rebuild the houses in his native Pennsylvania.

“Any time something is voted just to get razed is horrendous,” Pinchot said. “It’s not just black and white like that. There can be a new future to it.”

Pinchot reached out to Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Heitz and then wrote an open letter to selectmen to explain his plan. Heitz read the letter at last week’s selectmen meeting and said he was open to Pinchot’s suggestion.

“We would look at doing it as inexpensive as possible,” Heitz said. “It is something we would be interested in considering.”

Pinchot said he hadn’t spoken with Heitz since the letter was read March 18.

“I just hope to keep an open dialogue with him,” Pinchot said. “We want to know what the time window is and when it has to be done by and all the pieces of logistic. I would need to find out their list of do’s and don’ts.”

Pinchot said they contract with a company for the equipment they need and often ask local firms to donate to the project to lower costs.

There were two articles on the Town Meeting warrant regarding the Grace Daley House. Residents voted 570-189 against spending $150,000 to renovate the house. They then voted 579-328 to have the Main Street home demolished.

“It would have needed a new roof and a new foundation,” Heitz said. “With a government building, it would have had to have been compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That becomes fairly expensive.”

The house was built in 1834 and has been used as the Congregational Church parsonage and as a barbershop. After the town bought the building in 1972, it has been used by the Kingston Community House, a nonprofit organization.

This will be Pinchot’s second reality show dedicated to reconstructing homes.

Pinchot currently hosts “The Bronson Pinchot Project” on the Do it Yourself network. The show, which airs at 11 p.m. on Saturdays, features a group of 19th-century homes Pinchot is restoring in Pennsylvania.

He only uses materials from abandoned and condemned homes built between 1750 and 1850.

While his current show mainly shows just the construction, this new one will focus on the “rescue” of the home.

“We are looking for buildings which are in peril,” Pinchot said. “Not just crummy, old, abandoned houses.”

Pinchot said the program would show every step of the process.

Heitz said he’s also received interest in the home from Robert Pothier of First Period Colonial. Pothier specializes in preserving historic homes.