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Conservation + Research
A woman crouches on the ground near El Polin Spring, working to uncover a brick structure and clean the bricks off.
What skills does it take to care for an historic place? The Presidio Trust staff includes architects, archaeologists, historic landscape architects, planners, and architectural conservators among others working to care for the landmark district’s special places.
The Process
A great deal of preservation work occurs behind the scenes and often begins years before the public sees the result – a thoroughly rehabilitated building, gate, landscape, or site feature (such as a cannon or plaque).
Historic preservation always begins with research. Staff studies existing records and photos to understand a site’s past and how best to care for it in the future. Information gathering often begins at the Presidio Trust Library and the Park Archive and Record Center, which house original floor plans, maps, and historic photographs. Sometimes, as with the Presidio Archaeology Program, research extends beyond the park to other libraries and institutions.
Preservation staff then documents the site's history and recommendations for how to care for the building, feature, or landscape in a report that guides the planning and design of the rehabilitation effort. Depending on the type of resource being preserved, these documents may include Historic Structure Reports, Cultural Landscape Reports, or Conservation Treatment Reports. The Presidio Trust Library has copies of recent Historic Structure Reports for the Officers’ Club, the Presidio Chapel, and the headquarters building at Fort Scott, among many others.
Preservation tasks at the Presidio are incredibly diverse. In recent years, the park’s preservation staff has created programs for repairing historic masonry and wood windows; repaired the Spanish-era terra cotta tile basin at El Polin Spring, restored historic gateways, and transformed dozens of buildings, including the Officers’ Club. In addition to in-situ testing, Trust conservators can now perform laboratory testing and analysis in the new state-of-the-art Archaeology Lab. Presidio projects have won numerous awards.
Engaging the Public
Historic preservation staff members bring the public into the process through workshops and events. The new Preservation in Practice series include hands-on workshops and tours of preservation projects. The adobe brick making workshops that took place in late 2011 and early 2012 were a huge hit! Check the Calendar (and select History and Archaeology from the drop down menu) to see upcoming programs.
The historic preservation program also shares knowledge through a significant training effort.
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