Skip to main content

Independent Voice

A Man and a House

Jun 23, 2021 12:00AM ● By Debra Dingman

Alena and Wes Standfill of Standfill Custom Construction pose in front of the restored Victorian Row Home originally built in about 1887 for the Senator McCune family. Photo by Debra Dingman

A Man and a House [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

The Amazing Restoration of the McCune Manor

DIXON, CA (MPG) - The thick fingers of the burly man stroke the 1-inch-wide bright gold strip--showing that if you feel it, you can make out a sandy texture. Upon closer inspection, a small pattern is visible on the ribbon that outlines the entirety of the bay window, a distinctive feature of Victorian-style “row” homes. The hand-created stencil was applied more than a century ago. 

“Row” homes were built side by side with no space in between them and bay windows created the feeling of extra interior space and allowed more light into the building. Beneath this Dixon window are three bordered panels. Each has a different painting of redwood trees, a valley, and mountains in the background--like one might have viewed from the home built in 1873 by the McCune family before other Dixon buildings lined the railroad. Each small horizontal picture is surrounded by pale blue walls lightly dusted with white looking exactly like a blue sky on a spring day.

On the right and left sides of the window are embedded 3-foot beveled dowels painted a celery green and are trimmed with white and brown creating a buffer of sorts from the sharp corner of the walls. 

The paints are the original colors discovered from ever-so-slowly scraping seven layers of paint or precariously removing layers of wallpaper. These are all slow and gentle processes and finding the perfect paint match by helpful hardware stores to create history again is often difficult.

Days stretch into months of labor that only one enamored by history would sacrifice. That one would be Wes Standfill, 55, who has spent most of his working life building or remodeling homes and on the side, restoring the ones he loves. He boasts of being a “3rd-generation construction guy” and credits his father and grandfather passing down the skills. He worked with his dad when he was young, and they built more than a hundred homes. When Wes was 26, he started his own construction company--and developed the love to restore.

“I get my joy from re-purposing or recycling. When I do a job, I feel like I saved something,” he said. His wife of 34 years, Elena, knows this.

“They become his treasures,” she said, adding the wifey comment that he does bring his work home. “He brought the wood slats for the porch home and cut each ‘S’ design at our kitchen table. He is a perfectionist and his eye is very attuned to what other people don’t see.” She does give her suggestions but leaves it up to him whether or not he’ll use them.

This particular home is a bit shrouded in the trees that look like the ones in the paintings and is located on North First Street next to the railroad crossing. It is known to this generation as the Kilkenny house but only because the once prominent McCune family has faded from memories. Although you can read about Lady Jack (Sadie McCune) in the new Dixon History Museum being the first North American woman to fly on a plane. She grew up in that house.

But, back to Wes, who is renowned in Solano County for restoring old homes since doing Vacaville’s Buck Mansion in 1996 and who is First Northern Bank’s go-to construction expert, has been painstakingly restoring this one-of-a-kind Dixon home for the past two years of his 3-year ownership. His daunting first year experience involved removing suspected drug users and vagrants living on the property, a fire, and the ever-so-prohibitive Dixon permit process. Most thought it would be scraped off the earth, but Wes had seen it for years, knew the fire battalion would love to burn it all down, he said, and his heart woke with a passion to save it.

“I don’t know why everyone wanted to burn it down,” he shook his head sadly. “It’s odd to me that people don’t respect history. It’s not a remodel; it’s a restoration. It is the ultimate recycling as this home is really old.”

There had been rooms rented out and there were trailers and campers too. It took 18 dumpster loads to clean it up. There was even one person living in a hidden brush pile. Wes was clearing the grounds when his tractor caught an extension cord so he followed it from the house to a stack of wood covered with brush. It wasn’t a stack of wood. It was actually a hidden burrow with a little couch and a coffee maker inside.

“It was a great fort--the nicest homeless camp I ever saw,” Wes said. After cleaning up, Wes began by rebuilding what was destroyed in the fire that included a garage, then making things safe and up to codes. He also added central heat and air, sprinklers, and restored a bathroom that had been changed into a closet.

The large parcel holds three homes. The front row house was built prior to 1880 and is a 2-story house of 1600 sq. ft. that has three bedrooms and two baths; a back residence that had numerous additions built between 1884 and 1895 and is 2400 sq. ft. and a 2-bedroom, 2-bath cottage built around 2010.

The restoration which involved hoisting the house and rebuilding the underground support as well as building a concrete basement is complete. Each room is exquisite with details from the past seen throughout such as the rebuilt stove, knobs on the kitchen cupboards, an 1871 kitchen door, brass kitchen hinges and handles. There are sconces and medallions (decorations that surround a ceiling light) that were rescued from the Fountain House before it was burned in a Fire Department training several years ago. The home stands tall and appears to have regained her statuesque beauty under the tender hands of her man. Wes will now turn his focus to the landscape. 

Wes and Elena Standfill haven’t made up their mind for what they’ll do with the near two acres once they’re done, but they don’t plan to sell it. There are simply too many details that involved labors of love. It’s priceless now and may become the Standfill Manor for their two sons, they said, who both contributed to the restoration romance.

Sacramento Dixon California arrest records
Upcoming Events Near You

No Events in the next 21 days.