Presidio Archaeology Lab Interactive Experiences

Presidio Archaeology Lab Interactive Experiences

Michael Ashley

The Presidio Officers’ Club is one of the oldest buildings in San Francisco. It is located in the Presidio of San Francisco, the site of the initial Spanish settlement in 1776. Even though the building’s exact construction date is unknown, it is believed


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The Presidio Officers’ Club is one of the oldest buildings in San Francisco. It is located in the Presidio of San Francisco, the site of the initial Spanish settlement in 1776. Even though the building’s exact construction date is unknown, it is believed that the adobe walls date back to at least the 1810s, but the site of the building itself has had a structure in its place since the Presidio’s founding. The building has withstood several earthquakes and has been occupied by Spanish, Mexican and American militaries throughout the years. Its structure has been modified during the different periods of occupation, adding and removing materials and features, and has also had different usages and names. The Officers’ Club is currently a contributing resource to the Presidio National Historic Landmark District, managed by the Presidio Trust.
San Francisco’s moist climate and earthquakes have taken their toll on the adobe over the past century. The first adobe walls at the Presidio were built in 1778, including the comandante’s house on site of the Officers’ Club, but these structures were destroyed during the winter of 1778-79.
In addition to enduring several episodes of seismic activity, the building’s West wing, located in close proximity to historic drainage channel –which is now filled—also suffered heavy hydrologic damage over the years.
The Officers’ Club rehabilitation project began in mid-2011 with the purpose “to address structural, life-safety, and accessibility deficiencies; to repair and preserve many of the building’s character-defining features; to restore missing or obscured features; and to correct maintenance and potential water intrusion deficiencies”. Due to the building’s landmark status, all work would minimize any adverse effect on the historical fabric therein, and it was the Trust’s obligation to document existing conditions as well as any necessary alterations. After careful studies and analyses, the project began and required a thorough cataloguing of the exposed features along with documentation of any modifications deemed necessary.
All documentation was done by the Archaeology Lab interns Chris Albon and Juliana Fernandez, and the staff from the Presidio Archaeology Lab, Presidio Trust Planning Department, Center for Digital Archaeology (CoDA), Pat Taylor (adobe sub-contractor), Centric (general contractor) and CyArk.

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