Bob Vila Renovated This Brownstone, and You Could Own a Condo In It

published Oct 24, 2017
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This old house on the Upper West Side has been restored to some of its original glory, thanks to OG home renovation show host Bob Vila and his son Chris — who are now selling one of the brownstone’s five condos for $2.5 million.

Built in 1909 by John C. Umberfield and designed by architect George Walgrove, the historic townhouse at 21 West 75th Street inspired many episodes of the This Old House show. The two bedroom, two bath condo that’s currently available to one lucky real estate buyer takes up the entire third floor of the property (approximately 1,700 square feet). Natural light, natural wood, and a natural respect for the building’s architectural integrity dominate the residence.

To view the “before” of this property, architectural fans can see a good portion of the transformation unfold in this episode featured on, where Bob and Chris walk through the first stages of renovation of the brownstone and talk about its history, details, and how the Victorian building was cut up in the 1940s “to make a warren of rooms.” Watch them uncover the original hardwood and parquet floors under linoleum and carefully dismantle a pre-war pink porcelain bathroom in the informational, educational style that cemented Vila as the father of home renovation shows.

According to 6sqft, the Renaissance Revival townhouse (just a half block from Central Park and two blocks from the American Museum of Natural History) was originally designed as part of six row houses along 75th Street — a history of period architectural development in New York City that Vila walks through in fascinating detail in the six-minute video of the project on his website.

Debuting on public television in 1979, This Old House and its spinoff, Ask This Old House, became America’s first and favorite home improvement brand over three decades — with Time Inc. launching an eponymous magazine in 1995, then selling the shows in April of 2016 to former Time exec Eric Thorkilsen and a private equity firm, TZP Group.

Bob Vila now owns and runs his own home improvement and home advice website, In a recent interview with Popular Mechanics, Vila ponders his legacy of “over three decades [helping] countless families renovate and rebuild, often while wearing plaid,” spawning all those renovation shows, and the fact that he’s “often accused of having invented reality television, which is an interesting point.”