July 23, 2024


Elegant home interior

‘This Old House’ star Norm Abram to hang up his tool belt after more than 40 years on television

Home improvement legend Norm Abram of “This Old House” is leaving the show after more than four decades, according to an announcement from the series.

Abram, 72, is the carpenter-turned-TV personality who was first discovered in Boston in the late 1970s. Known for his renovation work, he became a pioneer of the now-popular home improvement television genre, filming over 1,000 episodes of PBS’s “This Old House” and more than 280 episodes of “The New Yankee Workshop.”

“I think I’ve done everything I can do on TV,” Abram told the Globe on Thursday of his decision to retire. “It was time.”

“Norm Abram is officially leaving the show and hanging up his toolbelt,” the show said in the announcement, adding that Abram would be “sent off in style” with a one-hour tribute special, “The House That Norm Built,” premiering this fall. The special will chronicle Abram’s 43 years on television, showcasing his “uncompromising craftsmanship,” and will feature archived footage and interviews with friends, peers, and celebrities.

The tribute will air Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. on PBS and will stream on the Roku channel.

Abram first got into home improvement with his father, a Boston carpenter, in 1958 on a job installing hardwood floors.

“That first job led to many weekends and summer breaks spent with his father learning the discipline of methodical pace and common sense,” the announcement said. Twenty years later, Abram was commissioned to build a barn by television producer and director Russell Morash, who was “so taken with Norm’s work” he invited him to help with the renovation of a house in Boston’s historic Dorchester neighborhood — with a GBH crew filming the process for a series.

The televised feature was an instant success, the show said, and Abram was brought on as “master carpenter” of “This Old House” when the series first premiered in 1979. Another home improvement show, “The New Yankee Workshop,” which Abram would host, was developed about 10 years later.

“It’s a funny world when people come up to you and say how much they like what you did,” Abram said. “I love all the people who loved the show, and I’m so happy so many people who liked the show went on to be amateur woodworkers if not great carpenters.”

“Norm is a living legend that helped create the home improvement television genre and entire networks are now in existence because of the trusted expertise to generations of homeowners that he provided,” said Dan Suratt, vice president of “This Old House” at Roku.

Viewers may recognize Abram for his trademark plaid shirt and his iconic slogan, “Measure twice, cut once.” Abram said the camaraderie is what he’ll miss most about being on TV.

“We were a family,” Abram said. “Everyone I worked with was terrific. … I’m honored to have worked with such good people for such a long period of time. But we’ll stay connected. It’s just who we are.”

“It will be hard for anyone to measure up to Norm,” Suratt said in the announcement. “We’re honored to have had him as part of our family.”

“This Old House” and the spinoff “Ask This Old House” have received a combined 117 Emmy nominations with 20 Emmy wins overall, according to the show. “This Old House” is set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television, Arts & Sciences at the 49th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on June 18.

Brittany Bowker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.