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 forty years.
"It's very hard you know, to have closed the plantation,” says San Francisco Plantation General Manager, Kim Fontenot, “but the work was so needed that we're very happy."
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," says Fontenot. “We were very worried.”
But now, Marathon Petroleum is funding over a million dollars 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, Robby Cangelosi of Koch & Wilson Architects says. “We had to lift the downriver corner of the building nearly five inches, because all the water was rolling back into the building there, causing ongoing damage."
The rotting wooden front gallery is being replaced, the building repainted, the roof fixed. Inside, the antique furniture is moved aside for more repairs.
Fontenot explains, "We're painting and cleaning the carpets, and the drapes, and having things reupholstered."
"It's going to look 100% better,” Cangelosi says, “almost like the day it was built. 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 September first. And they are going to celebrate with a special, brand new Fall Festival October 25th and 26th.
"I can't wait,” says Fontenot. “I cannot wait. It's very lonely out here without our tourists."