When heading out to explore an abandoned hospital or house, I usually have an approximate idea of what to expect. If it’s a hospital, it’ll be secluded, probably surrounded by trees or tucked into a hillside somewhere. (I’m sorry I just said “tucked into a hillside.” I don’t like it either.) If it’s a mansion, it’ll be off a country or mountain road, obscured in shrubbery and accessible only after a hike through disagreeable brambles. (I’m sorry I just said “disagreeable brambles.” Nevermind, I like it.)
But none of this proves true with the ruins of an old hospital in Calistoga. The structure is both a house and a hospital, and it’s smack in the middle of a quaint suburban neighborhood. First known as the Francis House, it’s now legitimately referred to as the Old Calistoga Hospital.
The hospital in 1937, by IC Adams, c/o Sharpsteen Museum
The mansion was built in 1886 and was home to James Francis, a local merchant, ranch and silver mine owner. Francis only lived there for five years until he died, and the house was purchased by Colonel M.E. Billings, a civil war veteran. Billings ran his law office from the Francis House until he died of pneumonia in 1918. After Billing’s death, the house was turned into a private hospital that ran until 1965, when state inspectors shut it down for failure to meet the current health and safety codes. It’s been abandoned ever since.
There were a few failed renovations plans, the most extensive being a boutique hotel, but ultimately the structure is beyond repair at this point. If any future plans are made, hopefully the facade will be saved, since it’s the only stone version of a Second Empire building in the area. According to the Napa Register, “Second Empire style residences became popular in the 1870s and 1880s. Character-defining features of the Second Empire style include a square floor plan, mansard roof, ornamental shingles, bracketed eaves, pedimented dormers, projecting central pavilion, and semicircular and arched windows and doors.”
So, yeah, that’s pretty much all I could find about the building’s history in my hasty research, if anyone has more information, I would love to hear it! After it was abandoned, a fence was constructed around the property, and it became an unsanctioned dumping grounds. In 2008, an attempt was made to clean it up, and workers discovered over a dozen discarded cars on the property, which is not a large plot of land, so that’s a lot of white trash lifestyle detritus for one area.
Although I grew up 45 minutes away from Calistoga, I’d never heard of the Francis House/Calistoga Hospital until recently. Probably because there’s not much of a story behind it, besides the predictable paranormal bullshit stupid fucking garbage nonsense myths that plague every abandoned hospital. Too bad though, I would have loved to see it before the roof and second floor collapsed.
There really isn’t much inside, only parts of the ground level are walkable, and the upper floors are completely inaccessible on account of no longer existing. I really like how the collapsed caused all the angles of the doorways and arches to warp, making it look like a waxen Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
To see more photos, go to my Old Calistoga Hospital/Francis House Flickr set.
Disclaimer: If any information on this post is incorrect, if you have more info or would otherwise like to tell me something, feel free to contact me.SHARE