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English Hinton ’18 interned for ‘Home Town,’ a show on HGTV that remodels vintage houses. Courtesy | English Hinton

When English Hinton left Hillsdale with her pol­itics and art history degrees, she thought the school would forget about her. Now, Hinton has made Hillsdale history as the only graduate to work for the popular home improvement network, HGTV.

After grad­u­ating in 2018, Hinton attended the Uni­versity of Georgia where she pursued a master’s degree in preser­vation. As part of her coursework, Hinton was required to write a thesis reflecting modern updates in the field.

“I wrote about how HGTV presents preser­vation,” Hinton explained. “I wanted to research shows that claimed to be doing some kind of preser­vation work, and HGTV is what people think of when they think of home ren­o­va­tions.” 

Over the course of a year, Hinton researched her two favorite shows — “Rehab Addict” and “Restored by the Fords” — to ensure  the network was doing its part for preser­vation. 

“It’s important — at least, it’s important to me — that if they want to claim preser­vation, they’re actually doing preser­vation,” Hinton said. 

Through the process of defending her thesis, Hinton said she grew an appre­ci­ation for HGTV’s preser­vation stan­dards, which made her inter­ested in working for the network. 

“I remember sitting in the office one day with my thesis advisor and I told him, ‘one day I’m going to work on this show,’” Hinton said. “I don’t know how, I don’t know when, I don’t know why, but I just know that I have to.”

And after com­pleting her thesis in April, Hinton did just that. She Instagram direct-mes­saged the project manager for ‘Home Town,’ a show that spe­cializes in revi­tal­izing his­toric homes, and a month later, Hinton was a con­struction intern for the show. Based in Laurel, Mis­sis­sippi, the show’s hosts Ben and Erin Napier ren­ovate at least 20 vintage homes a season. 

Ben Napier, the show’s host owns Scots­man’s General Store and Woodshop in Laurel, Mis­sis­sippi. Courtesy | English Hinton

 After learning more about the show’s efforts to pre­serve his­toric prop­erties, she decided to align herself with its mission — and soon, she was on site. 

“I was on all the job sites they were working on,” Hinton said. “It was a lot of running errands, meeting with all the trades. I helped organize plumbers, elec­tri­cians, car­penters, all of that.”

Hinton was present for season five of ‘Home Town.’ The spe­cific projects she worked on are con­fi­dential, but they will air on the show later this year. 

Jordyn Pair, one of Hinton’s former class­mates and sorority sisters, said she wasn’t sur­prised at Hinton’s deter­mi­nation.

“She’s always been bold,” Pair said. “She has guts out the wazoo.”

Although Hinton said the internship revolved around many trades — con­struction, plumbing, car­penting — her back­ground in liberal arts was crucial.

“It’s weird to go from a political phi­losophy degree to getting a master’s and then going into con­struction,” Hinton said. “It’s not your typical sto­ryline. But, I started in preser­vation because of how Dr. Arnn used to talk about the Churchill quote: ‘We shape our buildings; there­after, they shape us.’”

Ken Koopmans, Exec­utive Director of Career Ser­vices and Hinton’s former boss, said he always knew Hinton’s time at Hillsdale would con­tribute to her passion for preser­vation. 

“Her Hillsdale edu­cation pre­pared her for this field because she has a respect for tra­dition, which is important when iden­ti­fying objective beauty,” Koopmans said. “She’s got a good sense of how integrity, clarity, and due pro­portion create objective beauty.”

Although her edu­ca­tional back­ground was crucial in securing the spotwith HGTV, Hinton’s go-getter attitude, which Koopmans wit­nessed during her time as a Career Coach, cer­tainly helped. 

“I remember her reaching out to me before school even started, asking how she could help with mar­keting career ser­vices pro­grams,” Koopmans said. “She always took the ini­tiative to think of what could make us more effi­cient. I could always count on English to follow through, and if processes didn’t work, she would identify why, and fix them.”

According to Pair, Hinton has always been ded­i­cated to pre­serving tra­dition.

“When English found out we were removing some of the wall­paper in the Kappa house, she said, ‘what do you mean they took it out?’” Pair said, laughing. “It was awful wall­paper from the 70s, but that’s English. She has a strong rela­tionship of pre­serving beauty.” 

Now, Hinton will be working for Tom Williams Res­i­dential as assistant project manager and director of mar­keting for the company’s newly formed his­toric ren­o­va­tions and restora­tions division. Her goal? Starting a preser­vation division in the company.  

“Williams Res­i­dential does a lot of custom builds in the Atlanta area, and they brought me on to start a preser­vation division of the company to focus on his­toric ren­o­va­tions,” Hinton said. “I’ll get to think about what is worth pre­serving and making his­toric spaces liveable while still retaining what makes them beau­tiful.”

Though bridging the gap between con­struction and a Hillsdale edu­cation is seem­ingly dif­ficult, Hinton has one prin­ciple guiding her along her journey: beauty.

“A built envi­ronment reflects what’s valuable to a society,” Hinton said. “It’s important that our buildings are beau­tiful because beau­tiful things, beau­tiful buildings, draw us to beau­tiful things. Some­thing beau­tiful happens inside buildings — and the home should be beau­tiful because you’re growing some­thing of beauty there.”