GARYVILLE, La. -- Around 25,000 people visited San Francisco Plantation in Garyville last year. But this summer, the historic site is closed for the first major repairs in 40 years.
"It's very hard, you know, to have closed the plantation, but the work was so needed that we're very happy," said General Manager Kim Fontenot.
Two years ago, Fontenot showed me the rotting wood and other problems with the 150-year-old building, as she struggled to pay for repairs.
"It's just so much maintenance that your day is filled with maintenance," Fontenot said then.
Fontenot said they were very worried at the time, but now Marathon Petroleum is funding over $1 million in repairs to San Francisco Plantation, even raising a sagging part of the structure.
"It's critical to saving the building so that it's around for future generations," said Robby Cangelosi of Koch & Wilson Architects. "We had to lift the downriver corner of the building nearly 5 inches, because all the water was rolling back into the building there, causing ongoing damage."
They're replacing the rotting wooden front gallery, repainting the building and fixing the roof. Inside, they moved the antique furniture aside for more repairs.
"We're painting and cleaning the carpets and the drapes and having things reupholstered," said Fontenot.
"It's gonna look 100 percent better, almost like the day it was built," said Cangelosi. "We're going to be so proud of it there."
The work is right on schedule, so they say it should be complete in time for San Francisco Plantation to reopen Sept. 1. And they're going to celebrate with a special, brand new Fall Festival Oct. 25 and Oct. 26.
"I can't wait," Fontenot said. "I cannot wait. It's very lonely out here without our tourists."