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This doctor does make house calls

Dispatch/Argus Photo By Nobuko Oyabu

Rock Island's Bob Yapp, also known as the ``House Doctor,'' now has his own television series Wednesday nights on WQPT-TV, which focuses on home maintenance and preservation.

ROCK ISLAND -- One of the Quad-Cities' strongest supporters of historic preservation has a nationwide audience, thanks to a new show on the Public Broadcasting System.

Rock Island's Bob Yapp, also known as the ``House Doctor,'' can be seen on his own half-hour series, ``About Your House with Bob Yapp,'' every Wednesday at 7 p.m. on WQPT-TV. The show made its debut last October.

Seventy percent of the shows have been filmed in the Quad-Cities, at houses in Rock Island, Moline and Davenport. Mr. Yapp discusses home maintenance and repair in a way he hopes will be accessible and entertaining.

``We show how some tasks can be completed with power tools like a professional, but we also show it can be done using hand tools like an everyday homeowner,'' he said in an interview last fall.

``That's the true target of the show -- the everyday homeowner,'' Mr. Yapp said. It's also important for homeowners to understand what they need from a professional who will come to their house and do repairs, he said.

``We want to make the homeowner a knowledgeable consumer who knows quality standards,'' Mr. Yapp said. ``It's important to know what each job entails and when it's done correctly.''

A furniture and cabinet maker from Des Moines, Mr. Yapp began his media career in the late 1980s with a Des Moines Register column called ``The House Doctor,'' as well as a radio show by the same name.

In 1993, after serving as housing director for the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation, Mr. Yapp made a ``House Doctor'' video called ``Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Home,'' which caught the attention of a producer at WTTW, the Chicago PBS affiliate.

The producer, Bruce Marcus, got WTTW to be the presenting station for the new weekly series, which is underwritten by Ace Hardware, Andersen Windows and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Mr. Yapp doesn't call himself ``The House Doctor'' on the show, because another house-oriented television station uses that name. He still retains the title for the home-inspections part of his business, The Robert Yapp Co., which buys, sells and restores houses.

Last year, Mr. Yapp and his wife, Patricia, earned an award from the Rock Island Preservation Society for their 1996 restoration of the 1872 George Oscar White House, 603 23rd St., Rock Island.

``The range of architecture styles in this area is phenomenal,'' he said. ``I've never seen anything like it anywhere -- entire neighborhoods with Queen Anne and Victorian houses still standing. Getting involved in restoration in Rock Island and throughout the Quad-Cities was a challenge I just couldn't pass up.''

Mr. Yapp also recently finished his first book, a companion to his television series, which sells for $19.95 from KQED Books & Tapes. It also covers many key aspects of maintaining an older home.

-- By Jonathan Turner (February 2, 1998)

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