President’s Report June 2019

Presidio Historical Association President’s Report
submitted by Lucia Bogatay
June 2019

We are planning a tour in early September of Mare Island, a former Navy base, which contains many historic buildings. Bob Cherny will give a lecture on Thursday, October 3 at the Presidio Interfaith Chapel. He will speak about the Coit Tower murals which were coordinated by Victor Arnautoff. Bob’s book on Arnautoff was published last year. This event is particularly poignant due to the potential disappearance of Arnautoff’s murals at Washington High which were protesting the treatment of native Americans and blacks at the hands of whites. The vivid representation of this maltreatment has outraged the very groups it was designed to honor. November 4 is the 250th anniversary of Portola’s “discovery” of the San Francisco Bay. It will be celebrated by several history organizations, including the San Mateo History Museum. We hope to join a suitable ceremony on Sweeny Ridge to commemorate that event which occurred on Sweeny Ridge.

Fort Winfield Scott: After a two-month extension of the deadline, the revised proposal was submitted. Again, the staff recommendation was negative. It was clear that the proposal did not meet the Trust’s criteria, and it is worth noting that net income to the Presidio Trust did not meet Trust needs. The PHA sent a brief communication supporting the staff report. At the Trust Board’s June 19 meeting the Board upheld the staff recommendation and terminated the offering. In the meantime, the buildings will be maintained, conserved and “mothballed”. PHA cautioned that it would be best to keep them heated and suggested that work to conserve and interpret the murals be done as soon as possible.

SPUR has created an exhibition at their headquarters at 654 Mission Street of landscape architect Michael Painter’s work. He was a member of PHA’s board. It will be open into the Fall. Painter contributed the idea to underground part of Doyle Drive. He died a year ago. (

At June’s People for the Parks and Presidio meeting Amy Meyer welcomed Christine Lehnertz, new President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Ms. Lehnertz, formerly NPS Superintendent of Grand Canyon and before that briefly of GGNRA, talked about her plans for the Conservancy. Greg Moore will stay in an advisory position. Sharon Farrell, also of the Conservancy, who introduced us to One Tam at the last P4P meeting, gave a more detailed summary of the projects being undertaken by this collaboration of the agencies in charge of Marin County open space. Their goal is to maintain and restore the land and its natural features and modify access in anticipation of higher sea levels. Work is proceeding on wetlands and waterways, on trail corridors, and work has begun on long term forest improvements.

Patrick Hannan of the Presidio Trust reminded us that the base layer dirt for the Tunnel Tops will be arriving in July and August. We are to expect many trucks on Presidio roads. Work hours will be between 7 AM and 5 PM weekdays. Culverts are being installed at Quartermaster Reach for the expanded marsh. We asked if the roadways have been designed to keep petroleum pollution out of the bay. He will ask. He recommended taking a walk around Baker Beach which has been recently rehabilitated. The coyote pups have arrived but are successfully hidden from view. Various trail closures will happen as needed. The renovation of the bowling alley in the Main Post is nearly complete. Its restaurant will be reopening with a new outside terrace. The Presidio Theater will open with a Gala on September 21 and a public open house on September 22.

Amy Brees of NPS presented concept designs for the Chrissy Field Refresh, which addresses a lot of functional issues, as well as adding features to reduce the intimidating scale of the field. It proposes a central mowed lawn bordered by native plantings. The lawn represents an “airfield” with some replica planes as play structures, a race track (not the restored original, but offered as “homage” to the PPIC race track). Lucia will resume research on options for the planes-cum-play-structures. Paul Wermer suggested using it to test electric racing cars. He also suggested improving transportation (bus or ferry) to the Presidio from the communities the Trust and NPS want to encourage to use the park and for whom the distance may be a deterrent.

Gordon White, NPS chief of interpretation, discussed the six lighthouses within the GGNRA and gave a bit of history of them. There is a challenge in having the sites transferred to NPS as historical sites – The NPS does not want responsibility for lead paint remediation, and the Coast Guard wants to avoid the costs of remediation

Rich Hillis discussed the renovations happening in Building C at Fort Mason. He said a map is being produced for the Northern Waterfront promenade. It was suggested that he make sure Google has the same information for all those who use a smart phone instead of using maps.

President’s Report April 2019

Presidio Historical Association President’s Report
submitted by Lucia Bogatay
April 2019
This March, Bob Cherny produced a wonderful display about the early trans-Pacific trade of the Manila Galleons, which we presented at History Days at the Mint. We brought several examples of trade goods (silks, a shawl, and chocolate doubloons). This was to honor our late board member Ed Von der Porten who had been excavating one of them, the San Philippe, off the coast of Baja California. We were happy to welcome his grandson, Peter Von der Porten, as well as Bob Cherny’s granddaughter. Sharon and I modeled silks of the sort that might have been traded.
Our annual luncheon with speaker Barbara Sokolov was well received. We heard about the programs she has established in the past 10 years, and the planning effort which is now under way. We were interested in the interviews and heard an excerpt of one with the son of the painter of the Fort Winfield Scott murals

We are planning a new array of events for the coming year. The first will be May15 for a tour of the Alcatraz gardens with Shelagh Fritz of the Parks Conservancy. Space is limited to 30 so contact the office if you are interested. Later we are planning a tour of Mare Island, an installation which contains many historic buildings.

Our primary advocacy has concerned the proposals for reusing the nearly 300,000 square feet of historic buildings at Fort Winfield Scott. This beautiful enclave is the last major un-restored district in the Presidio. We have taken tours, written letters, and proposed various augmentations to the interpretation of the Fort’s history. This fort was specifically for the unit tasked with protecting the coast and managing the coastal batteries (later including the Nike missiles). Four concept proposals, out of a dozen or so received, were accepted and advanced to the next round in the selection process. These four contenders have combined forces and submitted a single proposal which the Presidio Trust will consider and evaluate. You can see the proposal on the Trust’s website.
The staff has recently published its recommendations to the Board, which are negative, based on the proposal’s transportation, economic structure, and lack of a long term commitment to mission-driven tenants. We would add, lack of clear intention to interpret history. The proposers, combined World Economic Forum, Open AI, and Epic whose 129,000 s.f will be managed by We Work. This group will present their ideas for reuse of the Fort for public comment at a meeting on April 24. We urge you all to read and comment, and perhaps plan to attend the meeting. We are in the process of preparing official comments for the PHA, again focusing on historic preservation and interpretation of history. Do let us know what you think. The Trust will decide whether to proceed with it at their May Board meeting.

Paul Wermer and I met with Ted Lieser, project manager for ECB, and for the proposing team. We made clear our interest in a more robust program to interpret the historic resources in and the history in Fort Winfield Scott.

We continue to make increasing our membership a priority. We want our current members to let us know what activities and events they would enjoy. We encourage you to let your history-loving friends know about us and to encourage them to join the PHA. As a volunteer organization, we count on your support and participation to make things happen. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

President’s Report, February 2019

Submitted by Lucia Bogatay, President of PHA

February 2019

The tour of the Gorgas Warehouse renovation project was well attended. Rob Thomson was in charge, and Bob Maher took photos.

Our committee for History Weekend at the Mint will set up our display on Friday March 1. Bob Cherny has done panels, and Sharon is trying to find volunteers. PLEASE call her at 415 305-3045 if you can help for a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday, March 2 and 3. It involves talking to people who stop at the table and enjoying the scene. There is a party for volunteers after the event closes on Sunday afternoon. Over 100 groups are participating this year.

We are planning PHA’s Annual Meeting for April 17th. Barbara Sokolov will be the speaker. Bob Cherny will give a talk on the wonderful Coit Tower Murals. We will be co-sponsoring it with the California Heritage Council. Date and location are pending. We are so happy that Bob Cherny is so much recovered!

People for the Parks and Presidio met on the 22 of February. The Fort Winfield Scott proposals are now due March 14. The four finalists have joined forces and will do a single proposal, but not surprisingly, needed more time. The Trust will meet to hear the proposal on April 24 and receive public comments. The decision (up or down) has been postponed until the Trust’s May 23 when the Trust has its next meeting.

The Trust reported on the status of Mountain Lake and recruiting neighbors to promise not to put alien species into the lake. They will be improving drainage to reduce seeping of golf course fertilizer into the lake. They are also reintroducing native newts into the park. They are poisonous to the touch, so signs will be needed. Pond turtles are reaching breeding age. They have made turtle crossing tunnels, so turtles can get to the uplands to nest (hopefully not in sand traps). The red-tailed hawks have been evicted from their nest by horned owls. The owls can be seen on the web cam. Coyotes will be pupping in April. This means limits on dog traffic in certain areas. The Franciscan Manzanita is being cloned, and will be planted along with a new source from Strybing Arboretum to help them to cross pollinate. The internship program is evolving. They are trying a pilot program for paid interns. A new Exhibit “Then They Came for Me” will be open at 100 Montgomery (home of Future without Violence). Tunnel tops contract documents are under review by Caltrans. Should be signed off in July.

Sharon Gadberry reported on improving the accessibility of the libraries and archives which should be available to the Public. She and Patrick Hannon are collaborating. There is much work to do to digitize and organize the Trust’s collection. Staffing problems appear to limit public access to the NPS Archive and the Maritime Museum library. Her diligence at defining the problems and trying to solve them got her a round of applause!

The Park Service is back in business, and grateful for the Trust’s help with during the shutdown. Many people contributed support during that period, which was difficult. The traffic management of the Marin Headlands is a problem. Reservations at Muir Woods have made it quieter. Lights out for birds from now until June due to migrations (night time) which are disrupted by too much night lighting. Also glass treatments needed for bird-safe buildings. Fritting and U.V. glass are two of the options.