Archive for the ‘Historic Preservation’ Category

New Fisher museum plans as objectionable as the old

December 3, 2008

What is the matter with these people?

The Presidio Trust has just disclosed plans that would allow the Fisher Contemporary Art Museum to be built directly across from the Main Parade Ground. The new plans, like the original one to build the museum on the Main Parade Ground itself, already face significant opposition.

The new site is where the Presidio preschool, senior center and Herbst Exhibition Hall now stand. These facilities would all be demolished, along with the bowling facility and tennis courts.

The Fisher museumwould be sited at a higher elevation and directly overlook, unobstructed, the entire Main Parade Ground. The proposed museum would be much larger – 40 percent bigger – as the plans now call for 140,000 square feet, instead of 100,000 square feet. Under one variation, a 20,000 square-foot unit of the museum would on the Main Parade – a key objection to the original plan.

Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here.

My we suggest a large, year-end, tax exempt donation to the Presidio Historical Association, one of the organizations that is fighting to protect the intergity of the National Landmark status of the Presidio of San Francisco.


Bulgarians Plan Tourist Attraction in the Middle of a Lake

November 9, 2008

What Could Possibly Go Wrong Here?


Seuthopolis is the most famous underwater archaeological site in Bulgaria – it is the only completely studied Thracian city in Bulgaria. The city is not only unique as an archeological and historical site, but it’s also a “treasure-house” containing vast knowledge for the everyday life of the Thracians. The city was completely uncovered and studied between 1948 and 1954, during the construction of “Koprinka dam”, near Kazanlak. The research team was led by prof. Dimitar Dimitrov, thoroughly studied and photographed the site, before it was covered by the waters of the Koprinka dam.


Kind of looks like a giant drain plug in the middle of the lake.

More about this project here.

Save the Delano, California VOA Facility

November 6, 2008

Go to for more information on this historical facility.

And, here’s a great piece about the history of the Delano site.

Nancy Pelosi To Weaken Park Service Oversight

July 31, 2008

When a Dem is up to the same sort of mischief that the Republicans have been doing for years, it’s only fair that it be called out.

Nancy Pelosi is up to the exact tricks that gets everybody’s pants in a twist when they see a Republican introduce legislation that benefits only one of their fat cat cronies.

Here’s what she’s doing.

Nancy Pelosi is proposing, so-called, “technical” changes to the Presidio Trust Act.

The Golden Gate National Park, the former Presidio of San Francisco, is run by in “partnership” with the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service.

Pelosi was instrumental in setting up this disaster in 1993.  She created the only National Park in the United States that has to be self-sufficient.  A really dumb idea at the time, and still a really dumb idea today.

A revision clause says that if the park was not self-supporting by 2013, the entire park would be turned back to the GSA for sale.

The mainstream press has picked up on the trivial parts of her proposed changes, such as renaming the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Golden Gate National Park.

One thing that wasn’t noticed is that Pelosi proposes to eliminate the revision clause in the Presidio Trust Act.

That’s a positive and significant change.

However, it comes at a huge cost.

And one of the costs is that Pelosi wants to eliminate the authority of the National Park Service to prevent the construction of the Fisher museum in the heart of the historic Presidio.

The National Park Service’s mission, as defined in the Organic Act of 1916 is to:

“To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife there, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

While the National Park Service is all about protection of the resources in the Presidio, the Trust is all about generating revenue, but, in theory, the Trust is constrained by the oversight of the National Park Service and the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for maintaining historic properties.

So, although the Presidio is not endanger of falling into the hands of totally uncontrolled development, (Some would say the Presidio is already too developed)  the Presidio Trust does have to create enough
revenue to maintain and operate what is probably one of the most expensive National Parks in the country.

However, what has happened is that the political power of the Trust has overwhelmed the rangers and cultural resources experts who work for the Park Service and making money has become the all important goal – often at the expense of preserving the historical landscape and resources.

Basically, if the Trust can’t see a way to make money from a structure in the Presidio, that building is left to rot.

Pelosi wants to further weaken the National Park Service’s oversight role and replace it with the Trust. This is similar to what the Bush administration tried to do by changing the National Park Service’s mission to emphasize “enjoyment” over conservation.

And, to that end, the Trust is proposing to build a hotel complex, a theater complex, and most objectionable of all, a huge contemporary art museum in the historic heart of the Presidio.

This misconceived plan has the potential of getting the area delisted as a National Landmark, because, on at least several levels, it is at odds with the Secretary of Interior’s guidelines for historic properties.

Perhaps that is what Pelosi has in mind.

To the extent that it can, the Park Service has been fighting these proposals, but they are extremely vulnerable to political pressure and ethically cannot take actions that appear to be “political” or look to
be insubordinate to their political appointee masters.

Pelosi’s actions will not only put in danger the historic status of the entire area but will also eliminate the “General Management Plan for the Presidio”, which was prepared by the NPS after exhaustive public input, and replace it with a “Presidio Trust General Management Plan.”

There is overwhelming opposition to the art museum in the Presidio, and for Pelosi to tinker with the Presidio Trust Act simply to allow the billionaire founder of the GAP to ruin the setting, the integrity and
the feel of a National Landmark is politics at it’s worst.

If anything, Pelosi should be introducing legislation that will *increase* the authority of the National Park Service and reduce the influence of the Trust.

One person’s obsession shouldn’t be allowed to ruin an entire National Park just because he has politician such as Nancy Pelosi in his pocket.

Pelosi’s bill can be found here

Pelosi To Squeeze Park Service Out of the Presidio

July 25, 2008

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi introduces “technical” amendments to the Presidio Trust Act in H.R. 6305 that deceptively increase the Trust’s independence from oversight by the Park Service Presidio Historical Association and the National Parks Conservation Association are working to preserve NPS involvement in bringing the Presidio back to National Park standards.

Here’s part of what she’s trying to sneak into the Presidio Trust Act.


Section 102 Authority and Responsibility of the Secretary of the Interior
(b) Public Information and Interpretation.–The Secretary and the Presidio Trust shall provide shall be responsible, in cooperation with the Presidio Trust, for providing public interpretive services, visitor orientation and educational programs on all lands within the Presidio.

Section 103 Establishment of the Presidio Trust
(b) Transfer.—
(1) …The Secretary shall retain jurisdiction over those portions of the building identified as number 102 as the Secretary deems essential for use as a visitor center. The Building shall be named the “William Penn Mott Visitor Center.” The Trust shall designate a prominently placed building to be the site of a visitor center to be operated jointly by the Trust and the National Park Service. In selecting the site for the visitor center, the Trust shall obtain the concurrence of the Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The visitor center shall be named the “William Penn Mott Visitor Center” and may be relocated by mutual consent of the Trust and the Superintendent of the GGRNA].

Please tell Speaker Pelosi that you oppose cutting the National Park Service out of the management of the Presidio of San Francisco in order to allow the founder of the GAP to build his totally inappropriate monument to himself in the heart of the historic post.

More of the markup here (.pdf)

Fort Scott

Battery Townsley’s Generator Room

March 8, 2008
Battery Townsley Generator Room

Battery Townsley’s Generator Room with four Cummins power units
Engine No. 1 – Serial No. 15332 / Type LGD /175 HP/ Cummins/ 700 RPM/ Diesel
Engine No. 2 – Serial No. 15330/ Type LGD /175 HP/ Cummins/ 700 RPM/ Diesel
Engine No. 3 – Serial No. 15331/Type LGD /175 HP/ Cummins/ 700 RPM/ Diesel
Engine No. 4 – Serial No. 15536/ Type HGD/ 73 HP/ Cummins/ 900 RPM/ Diesel

We are looking for any one of these late 1930’s model Cummings engines to restore the Townsley power room.

Photograph is circa 1940 and courtesy of the GGNRA Archives (GOGA 35301.2124).

Visit or volunteer at Battery Townsley at Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands.

Help Preserve a WWII Coast Artillery Fire Control Tower

August 26, 2007

Join the Delaware Seashore Preservation Foundation and the Fort Miles Historical Association in their efforts to restore World War II Artillery Fire Tower #3 located within the Delaware Seashore State Park on Route One just south of Dewey Beach, Delaware.

For more information click Here….



The Harbor Defenses of San Francisco

February 19, 2006


The roof of the Point Bonita Signal Station has collapsed due to lack of maintenance by the Park Service.  A simple application of rust preventing or consolidating paint would have prevented this serious damage to one of the historical structures in the GGNRA.

There are hundreds of fire control stations and other small structures that were part of the Harbor Defenses of San Francisco in the GGNRA. Many of them are exposed to the ocean environment and have extensive rust damage that will eventually lead to catastrophic failure of the structure. These structures need to be addressed in some sort of regular maintenance schedule. In some cases, this could be as simple as having a volunteer apply a rust preventing or rust consolidating paint to the rusted metal surfaces.

The Park Service has problems in determining exactly how much deferred maintenance costs they actually have, but nation wide, 5 billion dollars is the figure most often quoted.

The Park Service was decimated under Ronald Reagan’s first Interior Secretary James Watt, and Bush’s secretary of Interior, Gale Norton, is a former protégé of James Watt. Ms. Norton has long been an outspoken advocate of granting states, localities and even private corporations a greater voice in environmental decisions that under Democratic leadership have been mostly the preserve of the federal government.

Now, the Bush Administration wants to revise the Park Service’s charter in an attempt to further weaken their ability to preserve and maintain our wild lands and cultural resources.

San Francisco faces serious and unique issues as it’s the only National Park in the country that is required to be self-sufficient and is largely run by a politically appointed board of trustees. 

Although the Trust’s Management Plan includes preserving and enhancing natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources, it often appears that the Trust’s primary goal is to raise money to maintain their portion of the park. The cultural resources that have no money making potential do not seem to be very important to the Trust.

And with the revision of the Park Service’s charter, the long tradition of the Park Service to conservation and preservation will be tilted more toward utilization and commericalization.

San Francisco is also one of the most liberal and anti-military cities
in the country.  The portions of the park that are not run by the Trust
are under the jurisdiction of the National Parks, but the
Superintendent basically takes his marching orders from the Trust and
the liberal, local political

This means that one of the largest collection of harbor defense gun emplacements in the United States is pretty much falling apart.

The Curator of Military History was never replaced
when he retired.  The Park Archives has had staff cuts and is unable to
keep up with the processing of the material and have cut back public
access to archive material.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes the
Presidio of San Francisco, Fort Winfield Scott, Fort Barry, Fort Baker,
Fort Cronkite, Fort Funston, and hundreds of former military buildings
and resources. Many of these resources, especially the harbor defense sites are in grave danger of disappearing by neglect.