So, how does an award-winning political writer end up launching and running a web site that deals with old houses?
Old House Web's former editor and former publisher Ken Holmes caught the old-house bug just after graduating from college, buying his first house and starting a career as a newspaper reporter.
Two decades later, he still hasn't found a cure.
A native of Portland, Maine, Ken graduated from the University of Maine in 1978 with a degree in journalism and internships under his belt in the Maine Governor's office and with then-U.S. Sen. William D. Hathaway.
From 1978 until 1982, he covered local politics in Maine. Then, starting in 1983, Ken covered Congress and the White House as Washington correspondent for the Guy Gannett Newspaper chain.
By the time he landed in Washington, though, Ken was already grappling with the realization that carpentry, remodeling and old houses fascinated him more than the political world. Worse still (or better yet, depending upon your outlook), Ken was fascinated with the idea of running his own business.
So in 1987, Ken left the newspaper trade, returned to rural Maine, and for the next five years ran a residential remodeling and design business. The company bought, restored and sold antique houses. It also offered contracting services in central Maine.
Ken returned to the nation's capital in 1992 -- this time not as a political journalist but as senior editor of Hanley-Wood's REMODELING Magazine, the leading trade journal for professional remodeling contractors.
His work with the magazine entailed writing business and how-to stories, as well as plenty of travel and public speaking. He also wrote the magazine's well-known computer column -- gaining him the informal title as resident geek.
In 1995, when Hanley-Wood began exploring the creation of an online department, Ken spearheaded the effort. He was subsequently hired as the department's first chief editor. As Hanley-Wood's new media editor, Holmes oversaw the launches of a string of highly popular web sites.
While with Hanley-Wood, Holmes twice won the Jesse Neal Award, the business magazine industry's most prestigious journalism award. One of those awards was for his magazine writing, the other for his website work. In 1998, the web sites he directed were named among the top eight business-to-business new media sites in the world by NETMarketing, an Advertising Age publication.
Ken left Hanley-Wood in the fall of 1998 to launch The Old House Web. He also served concurrently from 1999-2001 as editor-in-chief of Buildscape.com, a major e-commerce startup.
Although no longer associated with The Old House Web, Ken, his two sons, and his wife Deb Holmes (Old House Web's former editor-in-chief) live in Gardiner, Maine, in an 1878 Victorian that they restore in the late 1980s, sold as part of a move to the mid-Atlantic, and then re-purchased in 2001.
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