For Immediate Release - January 9, 2008
For more information, contact:
Whit Hall, Director: 707/778-6975,
Gary Widman, President: 415/921-8193, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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 design...is 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.