Do-it-yourself mansion restoration

  • Mark Goff, left, and Phil Engel carry a column up to their porch as they work to install the refurbished original columns in front of their home, in Healdsburg, Calif., on October 5, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Two years ago, Phillip Engel and Mark Goff were optimistic that the end was near at hand for the massive renovation project they'd undertaken at 227 North St. in Healdsburg.

Back in October 2011, Engel was hoping that the magnificent wreck they bought in 2009 would finally be finished by Christmas, although he knew that might be optimistic. Two years later, the historic 1870s mansion is comfortably liveable but still a work in progress.

But at least by Halloween, thanks to a fresh new exterior paint job and a meticulous restoration of the covered porch and rotted siding, they will no longer be hearing from passers-by, "That's quite the project you've got going!"

Healdsburg's Marshall Mansion Restoration


What do you say after you've heard the same comment at least 100 times?

"You work so hard. We're three and a half years in and all people do is walk by and go, 'You've got quite a project here,'" Engel said with a sigh on a comfortably warm October day, perfect for housepainting.

Project doesn't begin to describe the effort of completely restoring, largely with their own hands, a three-story Italianate mansion that was so forlorn, it was visibly sagging on its foundation and the electrical wiring had been red-tagged since the 1950s.

Over time, the couple has become something of a roadside attraction in Healdsburg, with many neighbors and other town residents feeling personally invested in the house as it slowly comes back to life.

"Looking good!" a passing motorist calls out, stopping to lean toward an open passenger window to offer a thumbs-up.

Now they're hoping that several coats of fresh gray and white paint applied to the front of the house, a restored porch and a wall of white iceberg roses will make the house at least appear done from the street.

"We decided that if we just finished the front, all that would stop," Engel explained.

© The Press Democrat |  Terms of Service |  Privacy Policy |  Jobs With Us |  RSS |  Advertising |  Sonoma Media Investments |  Place an Ad
Switch to our Mobile View