In the sometimes-sleepy resort town of Calistoga, a National Historic Landmark has slowly, carefully been brought back to life. Shuttered for more than 50 years, the Francis House—an estate listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the region’s only example of French Second Empire architecture, notable for its mansard-style roof—has been rescued from demolition and reborn as a five-room luxury inn, one that quietly blends deep-seated roots with thoroughly modern Napa Valley upgrades.
Originally built in 1886 as a family home for prominent local merchant James H. Francis, the estate served as a hospital from 1919 to 1964 before being almost entirely left to the elements. Its new lease on life comes thanks to Richard and Dina Dwyer—a San Francisco–based real estate broker and contractor, and an interior designer, respectively—who stumbled upon the property three years ago while looking for their dream wine-country home. “The opportunity to save and restore the Francis House is a tribute to the skill of the local workers, craftsmen, and artisans and to the rich heritage of Calistoga,” said Dina.
After a painstaking renovation and restoration, the Francis House shines anew, showing off its pedigree (and Dina’s design chops) with splashes of the casual and contemporary aesthetic often found in the world-famous wine region. Exposed stone walls are a foil to modern furnishings, books, and art. Smart TVs hang above antique desks, and king and queen beds are all swathed in plush premium linens. Carrara marble covers the surfaces of the spacious bathrooms as well as the fireplace mantle in what is now the living room—a backdrop that once also served as the set for Peyton Place, a 1960s teen soap that helped launch Mia Farrow into the spotlight.
Outside, guests can lounge by the heated pool to recover from afternoons of wine tasting at some of the region’s latest and greatest vineyards, or they can head into the pool house where they’ll have access to an infrared sauna and salt room. The surrounding gardens are bedecked with gravel paths, citrus trees, fragrant flowering jasmine vines, and two French limestone fountains, where on weekend evenings local wines flow freely. And while there is no restaurant, Calistoga’s main drag, Lincoln Avenue, is just a couple of blocks away. Or, guests can head farther afield for practically obligatory dinners at the French Laundry, the Charter Oak, and, if they are lucky enough to snag a reservation (Francis House’s well-connected staff can give you a leg up if need be), SingleThread.