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'This Old House' - Martha Stewart Style

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'This Old House' - Martha Stewart Style

by Alison Damast and Ryan Jockers, Staff Writers


Martha Stewart

NORWALK, Connecticut - Martha Stewart is bringing reality TV to Norwalk, Connecticut. Stewart's company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, purchased a house on Flax Hill Road that will be featured in a new home-improvement television show next year. Stewart's company and Discovery Communications have begun filming around Norwalk but not in the house.

The series is about a group of women who learn trades and help renovate the 125-year-old house. The show will premiere next year on one of the Discovery Channel's 16 U.S. networks, according to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. A spokeswoman for Stewart's New York-based company said the show has begun the early stages of production.

The company bought the house last month for $700,000, according to City Hall records. It is a a 2,500-square-foot, white antique Colonial, which was built about 1880. It has five bedrooms and is set on three-quarters of an acre at 384 Flax Hill Road. In gathering information on the city and assembling footage for the show, Stewart's representatives discussed the show's premise with city and school officials.


Martha Stewart leaves federal prison in her now

famous poncho made by one of her fellow inmates.

"They are women who may have suffered abuse, rape or maybe the loss of their job, or women maybe coming out of jail and in situations where they are in crisis or transition," said Sheri McCready, public affairs officer for the schools. "They're going to be learning carpentry, electrical and plumbing skills and things like that so they can be self-sufficient."

Stewart was sentenced last year to five months at a minimum-security federal prison in Alderson, West Virginia, after lying to authorities about her 2001 sale of about 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. stock. Upon her release, she returned to her 153-acre estate in Katonah, New York, for another five months of house arrest.

Stewart made her name as a domestic diva from her former home on Turkey Hill Road South in Westport, Connecticut. From a small catering business, she created an empire that includes books, magazines and a line of furniture and bedding sold at Kmart. Two shows, "Martha" and "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," recently premiered on NBC.


Martha Stewart

The women in the upcoming TV series -- the third one Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has produced -- will transform the Flax Hill Road house and learn home-building, design and renovation skills, the spokeswoman said. Martha Stewart Living staff will mentor the women.

The home improvement show will contain background on Norwalk and its history. "They came here to find old photographs of what Norwalk used to be like, to show the heritage and richness in character," said Susan Gunn, the Norwalk Museum curator. Gunn said Stewart's representatives also sought older photographs of the Flax Hill Road house. They asked the Norwalk Historical Society to produce a historical plaque to hang on the house.

The school system will be part of the show's opening segment, McCready said. Producers from the show contacted her earlier this month asking for permission to film students, McCready said. They shot video of children getting off the bus in the morning at Norwalk High School and Naramake Elementary School on September 21, she said.

"I think this is an opportunity for people to really see what the Norwalk Public Schools look like," McCready said. "We're both urban and suburban. We've got rolling hills and we've got a downtown, too."

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