Presidio of San Francisco (April 11, 2012) -- The Presidio Trust is inviting the public “inside the construction fence” for a unique look at a newly rehabilitated Presidio icon. As part of its new Preservation in Practice series, the Trust is offering behind the scenes tours of 101 Montgomery Street, one of the stately, red brick barracks on the Main Post, on Saturday April 14 at 10:00 am and noon.
“The series is about demystifying the preservation process, bringing it out in the open and making it more transparent” says Kelly Wong, an architectural conservator for the Trust. “It’s more than just driving by every so often and seeing the progress being made. It’s a chance to get inside the construction fence and see the work up close.”
Built in 1895, the majestic Montgomery Street Barracks are among the Presidio’s signature structures. Known colloquially as “infantry row,” they line the historic Main Parade Ground and once housed hundreds of soldiers en route to conflicts from the Spanish-American War and the conquest of the Philippines to Vietnam.
Historians, architects and conservators from the Trust will discuss the history of the Montgomery Street barracks, showcase the recently completed rehabilitation projects, and lead a tour inside one of the historic buildings. It’s akin to getting golf tips not from a local pro, but from Tiger Woods—professionals from one of the nation’s largest and most ambitious historic preservation projects explaining their craft and giving the public an inside peek.
“It’s a way of reaching out and engaging in a dialogue with the community; to share the projects with them and show them what is possible when it comes to preserving historic buildings,” says Wong.
The Presidio is a kind of “living laboratory” of historic preservation, whose embodiment can be seen across the park. Since 1994, the Trust has rehabilitated 350—roughly 81 percent—of the Presidio’s 433 historic buildings dating from the Civil War through the Cold War. Historic landscapes and features such as major park gateways have also been returned to their previous grandeur. (To learn more about the practice of historic preservation and work completed at the Presidio visit http://www.presidio.gov/about/Pages/historic-preservation.aspx). However, much of that work occurs behind the scenes and begins years before the public sees the result.
“Preservation is central to the Trust’s mission,” says Craig Middleton, the Trust’s executive director, “not only because it safeguards resources, but because their reuse gives them new purpose and meaning as the Presidio continues to transform into a lively and welcoming destination.”
Both Building 101and its neighbor two doors to the north, Building 103, have been fully rehabilitated, including seismic upgrades that featured an innovative approach to strengthening the unreinforced masonry buildings. The Trust employed a process known as “fiber wrapping,” in which fiber reinforced polymers were used to strengthen the buildings’ walls. It’s a technique that uses a lighter touch and better maintains the buildings’ historic character than more traditional methods. The project also included restoration of the buildings’ historic windows and original wood floors, improved access for people with disabilities, repairs to the barracks’ roofs and distinctive porches and new landscaping. Work was completed last fall. Two other barracks, 100 and 104 have been completely rehabilitated and are occupied by the Center to End Violence (100) and the Disney Family Museum (104).
The Montgomery Street Barracks Tours take place Saturday April 14 at 10:00 am and noon at 101 Montgomery St. on the Presidio’s Main Post. Space is limited. To RSVP email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two more Preservation in Practice programs are planned throughout the year. In July, a hands-on workshop examines the care and restoration of bronze plaques and monuments. And you can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a building by its paint? In October, learn how just a single, small paint sample can speak volumes about a building and its history.
The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to administer the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park site located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio is one of the largest and most ambitious historic preservation projects underway in the United States. The Presidio’s historic buildings represent the nation’s most comprehensive collection of military architecture, dating from the Civil War through the Cold War, including homes and barracks that reflect how the military social hierarchy and domestic life evolved in the Presidio. Since 1994, approximately 75 percent of the park’s historic structures have been rehabilitated for new uses. The Trust has won numerous awards for planning and historic preservation.