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Published: Thursday, 2/17/2005

A Craftsman's Career

For Tom Silva, now in his eighteenth year as host of This Old House, his career choice was pretty much a given.

Born into Silva Brothers Construction in Massachusetts, Tom was a child when he worked alongside his dad and brother on his first major project, installing a basement fallout shelter underneath their 1787 Colonial in Lexington, Massachusetts.

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of This Old House, the series decided to go back to its roots, but with a twist. For $645,000, it purchased a simple Greek Revival-style farmstead built in 1849 in Carlisle, an upscale Boston suburb where the average home price in 2003 was $860,000. Most likely, the cost of renovation will total $1.5 million for the 6,674 square-foot house. Known as the Bradford Heald House, it will be sold to underwrite a scholarship program.

This Old House engaged Boston-based architect Jeremiah Eck to design the renovation. He created a mix of old with new to place a contemporary spin on this classic New England connected farmstead complex of main house, ell and barn.

The Carlisle project embodies three examples of the building arts, says executive producer Bruce Irving. Preservation we restored the main house to its Greek Revival glory; modern design and

construction the connecting ell was torn down and replaced

with a crisply detailed, factory-built addition; and adaptive reuse the old timber frame barn was converted to dramatic living space.

For the HBA House & Home Show, Tom Silva promises to talk about the Carlisle project. He ll show the behind-the-scenes processes as well as take questions from the audience.

The Carlisle house is a big deal to celebrate TOH s twenty-fifth anniversary, Mr. Silva says. We re going to use the proceeds from the sale of the house to set up a scholarship endowment to award $2,000 scholarships annually to at least eight students from community and technical colleges around the country.

He feels this is very important. Stop and think about it. Our homes are probably the biggest investment any of us will ever make in our lifetimes, but there are fewer people to work on it, Silva explains. What do you do when something goes wrong, or you want to remodel? There s no one out there to do the work, so everything costs more and more. You have to spend more money to have it fixed.

Locally, the building trades unions, working with the Association of General Contractors, have several programs to encourage young people to seek careers in the building industry.

For example, says Business Manager Steven Thomas of Laborers Local 500, We ve expanded our apprenticeship program. There are many kids in high school or recent graduates that either want to go to college or are just not sure. There are many career options for those with trade plus educational requirements, such as estimating, supervision or management.

Presently, we have an agreement with Owens Community College that gives those in our apprenticeship programs college credit. Then, of course, there are the colleges and universities that OCC has aligned with. Also, our union presents two $500 scholarships, the William Copeland and the William Thomas, to enhance a student s options, no matter what career field they choose.

In addition to the new programs at Penta Career Center, Local 500 is working with Rudolph Libbe and The Collaborative to build a new training and educational facility in Toledo s Uptown District. Here young people can receive career training, GED and computer literacy. There will also be more partnering with other community entities.

Entering into an apprenticeship program in the building trades can be very attractive to young people. For one thing, as Mr. Thomas says, The average pay for an apprentice is around $15.00 per hour, including benefits. We ask these kids, What do you want to do? And, we tell them all the many success stories of those individuals who have careers in the building industry.

According to Bill Brennan, president of the Associated General Contractors, they have a total recruitment program through its Alliance of Construction Professionals. He says, This group handles all our recruitment marketing including direct mail, radio and television advertising and job fairs. For anyone curious about what career in the building trades might be like, he or she can go to our Web site, www.acp1.com.

The driving idea is that young people can create a career for themselves. Our tag line is always Build your future with us.



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