Presidio Historical Association President’s Report
submitted by Lucia Bogatay
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. (https://www.spur.org/exhibitions/2019-06-24/non-linear-mind-michael-painter)
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.