After two years the scaffolding wrapped around the Francis House came down late last month showing off the restoration and rebirth of the building that was crumbling before the new owners bought it 2015.

“We’re bringing the pretty old real estate back to life,’ said Richard Dwyer.

Just before Christmas the mansard roof was completed returning the look of the original mansion built in 1886 at the corner of Myrtle and Spring streets by local merchant James H. Francis. The new owners Richard and Dina Dwyer started the renovation in early 2016 first removing the hospital at which some Calistogans were born. The hospital operated there from about 1918 to 1965 when the state shut it down for failing to meet health standards.

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Francis House undergoing a renovation

Scaffolding covers the front of the Francis House as it is renovated in 2016.

There is new sheetrock inside, and “we have heat in the building, which is a miracle,” said Richard.

They had to wait for the heat to be installed in order to put in the new European white oak hardwood. “With any luck will be putting the floors in there in a week or two. Then we can do the cabinetry,” he said.

The windows are all in and they were able to refurbish and reuse most of the old growth redwood windows, trying to keep as historically close to the original as possible. Workers carefully “peeled off the wood and meticulously redid it.”

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Installing windows

Most of the original windows were able to be refurbished and reinstalled.

“It’s amazing what was taken out of there” and how much damage was done by weather, fires, and “everybody pillaged it” stealing things such as door knobs and handles, Richard said.

“It’s coming together beautifully. All the guys” who have been working on it “have such heart” for it. Most are local people. It’s been fun for me because they are so excited to work on the building,” he said.

All but two doors are in, missing one on the back and one on the side. Work is about “85 to 90 percent done” on the main house and next they will work on the landscaping and two other buildings on the property that they hope to have completed in four to six weeks.

“We want to be open by BottleRock,” said Dina Dwyer.

Richard, “quite the optimist” said he was shooting to be open by December 2016, but now the end of May looks to be more realistic, he said.

Dina, an interior designer, is working on interiors now, but they aren’t revealing all the details of what it will look like inside because “we want it to be a little surprise,” she said.

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Driving rods into Francis House to stabilize the stone walls

A worker drives rods into Francis House to stabilize the stone walls. Epoxy filled tubes were inserted into the walls and then steel rods were drilled into the tubes to push out the epoxy into hollow areas of the walls.

She is posting some photos of a few design pieces on Instagram (@thefrancishouse) and continues to post updates on their website TheFrancisHouse.com, which is being worked on now to integrate booking reservations at what will be a bed and breakfast, and their home.

This is a “labor of love,” Richard said. “We’re looking forward to being a part of the community. People have such love for the building.”

And the couple plans on showing it off to the town, but they haven’t quite figured out exactly how and what they will do. Stay tuned, they said.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor