President’s Report, August 2018
Dear Members of PHA,
We are currently in the throes of preparing comments on the nine concept proposals received by the Presidio Trust for Fort Scott in July. There is much to read and much to consider. We are glad that the Trust has delayed the choosing of finalists for the next round, a Request for Proposals, until its September meeting. This gives us more time to collect our thoughts. Our focus will be on the importance of interpretation of the history, and the need to allow more access for the public. This is the last major district that remains to be re-purposed. Once again, the conflict between the Presidio Act and its role as a National Park has become painfully obvious.
We are still feeling the loss of two important members of the Board. Ed Von der Porten died in May. Ed was a maritime historian and archaeologist, and a gifted exhibition designer. His depth of experience and knowledge was always available to share, and his skill at building ship models of the period he studied was astonishing. He was responsible for confirming a location on Point Reyes for Sir Francis Drake’s landing. The spot is now acknowledged by the Park Service. At the time of his death, Ed was excavating a Manila Galleon in Mexico, and writing a book about it. His grandson, Peter Von der Porten, also a marine archaeologist, will take over the task of completing both the book and the excavation. Michael Painter our stalwart Landscape Architect died in June. A fellow-critic of projects in the Presidio, over the years he generously contributed his ideas, time, and expertise to them, and gently encouraged improvements like the tunnels for Doyle Drive creating new open space and less highway in the views from the Main Post and the National Cemetery.
We received a donation of photographs of World War II in the Presidio from the daughter of a Lieutenant Colonel Albert H. Moffitt, Jr., who was Executive Officer of the Civil Affairs Division of the Ninth Service Command (the forward echelon). This organization carried out the Japanese exclusion act, and was part of General Witt’s command until 1943 when he was transferred to Washington, D.C. We will copy it digitally and find an appropriate Archive to conserve such an object. Bill Yenne will help us identify the few unidentified officers.
One of our most important goals this year must be to grow our membership. We value all our members and want their help in increasing our numbers. Let us know what activities and events would interest you. Please write things for our newsletter. Tell your history-loving friends about the organization. Encourage them to join.
Amy Meyer, member of PHA and former member of the Trust Board called a meeting to discuss ideas for an airfield-related display for Crissy Field. We continue to think of ways to make sure the public understands the important history of this 1919 air field. The repair of the Earthquake shacks is proceeding, and will begin with repair of the door, and stabilization of the windows. Gary Widman and is perusing the creation of an History Center at USF’s building on Crissy Field. It would be in cooperation with various local universities. He has contacted someone at USF to work out a proposal.
We are planning a couple of field trips this Fall, to the Nike site on the Marin Headlands in the near future, and to Vallejo to tour Mare Island and its red-light district. We hope you will all want to attend.
President of PHA