Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Today, January 30, it was announced that the CAMP Museum (Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio) was selected by the Presidio Trust, the govermental corporation that manages most of the Presidio National Park.  However, overwhelming public opposition resulted in the Trust confirming that no decision would be made until a comprehensive environmental review is completed. It is possible that this review will require relocating the big glass and white stone structure away from a proposed central position in the historic park to a less objectionable site. That would be a major victory for those of us who defend historical values and American history. 

The Presidio Trust also announced 5 million dollars for a visitors' center ( a Park Service responsibility that has not been funded) and a "history center." But, the "history center" is nothing more than a promenade with exhibits along the way and an audio tour of the buildings: it does nothing real to bring meaning to the history of America found at the Presidio National Historic Landmark District. That historical meaning will remain a closed book to the public if the promenade were to be the only "history center." 

A proposal for a 50,000 square foot "History Center of the Golden Gate" was rejected on the grounds that it was not funded.  The group proposing the History Center, the Presidio Historical Association, had asked the Trust to join with it to explore funding opportunities for a museum with nation importance at the Presidio, a proposal that is fitting with the magnificent site and National Historic Landmark.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


The Presidio of San Francisco was nominated to be one of the nation's "11 Most Endangered Historic Places". What do you think? Let us hear your comments. Here is the press release:

News Release


For Immediate Release - January 9, 2008


For more information, contact:

Whit Hall, Director:   707/778-6975, 

Gary Widman, President:  415/921-8193,


Historical Association Seeks “Endangered” Status for San Francisco’s



The Presidio Historical Association (PHA) announced today that it is

seeking “Most Endangered Historic Site” status for San Francisco’s

Presidio park.


On Tuesday, the Historical Association formally requested that the

National Trust for Historic Preservation include the Presidio on its 2008

list of the nation’s “11 Most Endangered Historic Places.” The National

Trust, a prominent nonprofit organization, provides leadership, education,

advocacy, and resources to save America’s diverse historic places.


PHA President Gary Widman said the move was necessary because the

Presidio’s management requested a proposal from Gap founder Donald Fisher to build a 100,000 sq. ft. modernistic stone-and glass-structure

showcasing his contemporary art collection on the Presidio’s historic Main

Post. The Presidio Trust, a federal agency, manages that part of the

Presidio. It has already named a developer for another new building, an

80,000 sq. ft. hotel to be built nearby on the Post.


The Presidio was a military garrison from 1776 to 1994, and is designated

a National Historic Landmark District, the highest possible designation,

by the Secretary of the Interior. Its buildings and setting reflect 220

years of America’s heritage.


The Presidio has not had a history museum since 1994.  PHA submitted a

plan for a “History Center at the Golden Gate” as an alternative to

Fisher’s much larger art museum.


“This precious historical site must be preserved for future generations

and protected  from incompatible structures and uses that would destroy

its integrity forever,” said Widman.  Widman noted the location sought for

the art museum lies in the heart of the Presidio, just yards from where

the Spaniards built their garrison in 1776.


Preeminent San Francisco landscape architect Lawrence Halprin said of

Fisher's proposed structure, "The absurdly inappropriate. It

would ruin the unique architectural character of the Presidio..."


Charles A. Fracchia, Founder and President Emeritus of the San Francisco

Museum & Historical Society and author of three San Francisco history

books, wrote that “...the [Main Post] should be preserved as it exists.

The intrusion of a large hotel and museum in a contemporary style of

architecture into this delicate space would be a desecration, both to the

aesthetic and historic importance of the site. Such a mistake, if allowed

to continue, will be looked upon in ages to come as eyesores built by the

unfeeling and the insensitive.”


Boyd de Larios, speaking for the Descendants of the Anza and Portola

Expeditions, whose ancestors founded the original Presidio garrison in

1776, supported PHA’s request for endangered status to bring “national

attention to the irresponsible proposals for large-scale, new, and

inappropriately designed construction in the historic heart of an

irreplaceable national treasure.”


The controversy over building the art museum and hotel on the historic

Main Post, when many more appropriate sites are available on the Presidio,

has generated thousands of critical comments on the internet.


Founded in the 1950s, the nonprofit Presidio Historical Association (PHA)

has worked in cooperation with the National Park Service and Presidio

Trust since 1994 to advocate for preserving the integrity of the

Presidio’s National Historic Landmark District, located within the Golden

Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).  PHA created a museum for the Army when it was based at the Presidio. Earlier, PHA helped restore historic

Fort Point at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.