WESTERLY — When "This Old House" returns to PBS this fall for its 41st season, viewers will get to witness the transformation of a classic 1940s-style Misquamicut Hills ranch house into a two-story Dutch Colonial.
The house — where the late Cyrus and Marjorie Morgan raised their family — is owned today by Shayla and Scott Adams of Westerly. It is getting get a new master suite; bedrooms for the couple's two daughters, Malin, 5, and Emily, 2; a spacious guest bedroom, a home office and a laundry room.
Future plans call for a detached two-car garage. The outside shell of the house is nearly complete and attention is now focused on the interior, a new deck and patio, and landscaping. A live feed on the show's "insider webcam" on the "This Old House" website has been chronicling the updates, and the hosts on occasion take questions in a "Live from the Westerly Ranch!" segment.
Cyrus Morgan built the 2,000-square-foot house, paneled the rooms with knotty pine, and made the kitchen cabinets himself. The Morgans lived in the house until the Adamses bought it last year.
On a recent sunny afternoon, while Scott and Shayla pored over the shapes and colors of bathroom tiles outside with interior designer Kristen Martone, cameras were rolling and stopping, rolling and stopping inside the house, where master carpenter and TV star Norm Abram was the center of attention.
Abram has been involved with the show since the series began in 1979, and a decade later became the host of "The New Yankee Workshop." He was standing in a corner, wearing a small microphone and holding up a tool belt, while roughly a dozen people looked on: One with a clipboard, one behind a TV camera, others testing for sound quality, lighting and wires, and other workers moving back and forth.
Jeff Sweenor, president and CEO of Sweenor Builders, the Wakefield-based company providing design-build services for the project, stood nearby wearing safety glasses. He was ready to make cuts on a long plank of dark wood.
"Everyone's phone on silent?" called out Thom Draudt, the director. "OK, let's do this."
"You may recall there was knotty pine in almost every room," Abram began. "At least one room in this house will pay homage to that midcentury look. We're going to clean it off and use it as wainscoting in one of the kids' rooms."
Abram made his way across the room and shook hands with Sweenor.
"Let's try that again," said Draudt, as cameraman Steve D'Onofrio hoisted an enormous TV camera to his shoulder.
On the fourth try, once the compressor was turned off and some tissue paper was taped onto the floodlights, the scene was deemed a success.
"Let's keep the ball rolling," said coordinating producer Sara Ferguson, whose job it is to connect the homeowners and contractors to the show’s producing and editorial teams and to keep the show on schedule.
Back outside, while dozens of workers scurried back and forth between the house and the flotilla of trucks that lined the driveway, the Adamses continued their discussion with Martone, the owner-operator of Graceke Design, who is also on the staff of Sweenor's company.
Shayla Adams, a physical therapist who grew up in Ledyard and Madison, Conn., credited her husband, an environmental consultant, with making the connection with the folks from "This Old House" via Sweenor.
"He's been following Jeff [Sweenor] on social media for a while now," she said.
Scott said he was so impressed with houses that Sweenor had renovated in Jamestown and Narragansett that he contacted him after he and Shalya bought the house in Westerly.
Commenting a few days after the episode was filmed, Sweenor said, "After hearing what they wanted to do, I brought the idea to 'This Old House.' They really liked the project."
This is the third renovation collaboration between "This Old House" and Sweenor, a South Kingstown native whose company builds houses all over Southern Rhode Island and typically has about a dozen under construction at a time.
"We do things the right way," he said. "We practice what we preach."
"This Old House" will make 40 season premiere episodes available free on its website beginning on Aug. 17. The show has been sharing updates on social media using the hashtag #TOH40.
Ferguson said the Adams house has to be complete by Sept. 26. "That's the wrap date," she said.