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Employee's Old House to Be on TV

An MIT employee and her husband are going to be television stars.

Well, sort of. Actually, it's their house that's getting top billing.

Starting on October 2 and continuing for 18 episodes through January, renovations to the Belmont home of Lauren and Dean Gallant will be featured on Public Television's most popular half-hour show, "This Old House."

H. Lauren Gallant is administrative officer for the Media Lab's Program in Media Arts and Sciences. Her husband is assistant director of Harvard University's Center for Behavioral Sciences.

Ms. Gallant recently explained to her hometown newspaper, the Belmont Citizen-Herald, how their home-a six-bedroom, 1907 shingle-style Victorian-was picked for the show from among 200 houses.

After reading in the paper that WGBH, which produces the show for PBS, was looking for Victorian homes, she explained, "We sent in a proposal and they gave us a call."

After a few visits, the deal was set.

The Gallants pay for the labor costs of the renovation-the budget was set at $85,000-but much of the material is donated by manufacturers who are seeking exposure for their products and processes on national television. Alas, the Gallants must pay taxes on donated materials.

Still, they're excited about the advantages of the project, if not the television exposure.

The Gallants will be featured on the first episode of the show, which is carried by 350 PBS stations.

Do they expect to be famous? "We certainly hope not," Ms. Gallant said.

She and her husband bought the house a year and a half ago, she said, having looked for an old house to fix up. They already had begun renovations-basic improvements necessary to keep the house from deteriorating-when the show stepped in.

They had planned to take 5 to10 years to complete the renovations, but now will have a completely refurbished home within a few months. Moreover, the work will have been done by some of the best craftsmen in the area.

The Gallants told the Citizen-Herald they were attracted to the house originally by its exquisite woodwork and other features. The show's producer, Bruce Irving, agreed.

"This is a beautiful house in and of itself," he told the newspaper. "Our goal is to turn it into the authentic shingle-style building it was when it was built."

("This Old House" is seen locally on WGBH (Channel 2) on Saturdays at 5:30pm and is repeated Thursdays at 8pm.)

A version of this article appeared in the September 22, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 7).

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