Presidio of San Francisco (August 12, 2009)
-- The last U.S. Army soldiers marched out of the Presidio in 1994, often leaving behind remnants of their daily life. Enter Dave Seabury. In the 15 years since the Army’s departure, Seabury and his team with the Presidio Trust’s Salvage Department have combed through hundreds of park buildings collecting, cataloging, and storing thousands of discarded and cast-off items.
Now the Trust, in association with the General Services Administration, is holding its first ever live auction of items collected by the Salvage Department. The auction will be held Friday, August 28 at Herbst International Exhibition Hall, 385 Moraga Avenue, with previews at the Salvage Department’s warehouse, 1243 Appleton Street, on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 25 and 26.
“We’re hoping the live auction will reach a broader segment of the population than the online auctions we’ve done in the past,” says Seabury. “People who live in the surrounding neighborhoods will have the opportunity to buy interesting items from the Presidio.”
Ranging from the eclectic to the conventional, the lots include claw-foot bathtubs and other vintage fixtures; antique furniture; extraordinary pieces of stainless steel and custom cabinetry; even a grand piano and a Hammond organ. Many of the items were recovered from the former Letterman Hospital, the Public Health Services Hospital, and other renovation sites. Items will be sold both individually and in small lots.
“Our goal,” says Seabury, “both with this auction and the salvage program in general, is to find new uses for the items, keeping as much as possible out of landfills.”
One of the Presidio’s best kept secrets, the salvage department’s home in a non-descript warehouse at Fort Scott is as a refuge for a vast collection of both the odd and the useful, rescued from park buildings before the structures themselves were reborn as schools, offices, and homes. The program has helped furnish the offices of park management agencies and park partners, but it’s most visible success may be behind the bar at the Presidio Social Club where stainless steel shelving pulled from the Letterman Hospital maternity ward now houses the bar’s liquors.
Seabury, whose official title is “Waste Reduction Coordinator,” has spent a half-century in the salvage industry. He began at the age of five, hauling stuff that could be reused from what was then a very rundown Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, to his family’s home a few blocks away. His scavenging instincts ultimately led to positions with Berkeley’s Urban Ore and Ohmega Salvage, where he first discovered he could marry his salvage skills with historic building preservation. He calls his 10 years at the Presidio the most rewarding of his career.
“It’s still kind of astounding to me that I’ve managed to parlay dumpster diving into a position with the federal government,” Seabury says with a wry smile. “But my greatest satisfaction is the unique waste diversion program we’ve been able to build at the Presidio—one that incorporates recycling and waste management with salvage, disposal and the preservation of historic buildings.”
The Presidio Trust’s Salvage Auction will be held Friday, August 28 at Herbst International Exhibition Hall, 385 Moraga Ave on the Main Post. Doors open, and registration begins at 8 am. Auction begins at 9 am. Previews will be held at the Salvage Department’s warehouse, 1243 Appleton St., on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 25 and 26 from 9 am-1 pm or by appointment. For more information, or to view the lots online, visit www.presidio.gov/calendar
or call (415) 561-4260.
The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to oversee the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It also comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District.