For the entire month of August (July 30-August 31), visitors can watch Presidio archaeologists conduct a live dig at an important site not far from El Polin Spring
in the Tennessee Hollow Watershed
Watch the Dig!
The site, known as MacArthur Meadow, is located near the Lovers’ Lane Bridge
in the eastern Presidio. The team will be at work Monday to Friday from 1 pm to 5 pm. There will also be an archaeologist and a docent on site every Saturday in August from 10 am to 2 pm. to lead tours and share the latest discoveries. Drop in to learn about the history of the area and watch an excavation unfold. No RSVP is necessary. Families are welcome. Meet near the Lovers' Lane Bridge. Get Directions >>
What are they Looking For?
Three flags have flown over the Presidio: Spanish, Mexican, and American. Each represents a distinct era that we can understand more completely through archaeology. At the area known as MacArthur Meadow, archaeologists hope to shed light on one period that has remained a mystery.
In 1834, the Mexican commander of El Presidio de San Francisco
, Mariano Vallejo, moved the garrison north to Sonoma to be closer to Fort Ross. While Presidio historians often call the years that followed the “era of abandonment,” historical documents tell us that several families continued living at the El Presidio fort and just outside it in Tennessee Hollow.
Francisco Sanchez, acting commander of the Presidio in 1835, 1838, and again between 1841-1846, is believed to have built an adobe house just outside the walls of the El Presidio quadrangle (on today’s Main Post) sometime in the 1830s. His wife and children lived there with him, not far from the Briones and Miramontes families at El Polín Spring.
Sanchez was the acting commander of the Presidio in July 1846 when the Americans took control of Yerba Buena (now San Francisco) and the nearby Presidio. Although he initially mounted no resistance against the Americans, Sanchez would later lead the Californios in the Battle of Santa Clara, the only battle of the Mexican-American War fought in Northern California.
“Little else is known about the Presidio in the period between the 1830s and American military’s arrival in 1846. This dig has the potential to answer many of our questions,” said Kari Jones, the Presidio Trust archaeologist leading the project. Most of what the archaeologists do know from this time period is related to military life. An investigation into the Sanchez adobe in MacArthur Meadow may shed light on the lives of under-documented groups like women, children, and the native Californians. Details on social hierarchy, family structure, trade between communities, and even diet can all be found through household archaeology.
The search for the Sanchez adobe will take place in a grassy open space near the base of Lovers’ Lane and the MacArthur neighborhood in the heart of the Tennessee Hollow Watershed. Archaeologists have used historical documents, maps, and early paintings to hone in on an area where they believe the remains of Sanchez’s adobe are buried. A nearby garden that may have existed in this period will also be included in the search. Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle >>