Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Presidio Army Base and the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco: 19 October 2014

I read that the Presidio Trust would be opening the Presidio Officers’ Club on 7 October 2014 as a showcase for illuminating the rich history of the Presidio. “The Presidio was a military post for more than 200 years, first for Spain in 1776, then for Mexico in 1822, and finally for the United States Army from 1846 to 1994.” Today the Presidio is a National Historic Landmark. I decided to visit the Presidio Officers’ Club and see the exhibits. I walked to the Presidio from the Montgomery Street BART Station.

This map illustrates the route traveled, with mile markers shown. The approximate distance traveled, as measured by a GPS receiver, was 10.9 miles. Click on the image to see the full-size map.
This graph shows the elevation changes encountered during the ramble. The approximate cumulative elevation gain was 805 feet. Click on the image to see the full-size chart.
A view of the Presidio’s Lombard Street gate. The picture was taken during World War II from an apartment building located across the street from the Presidio. The convoy of ambulances traveling to Letterman Army Hospital is a grim reminder of the carnage that was taking place during the war. The hospital treated 73,000 patients from the Pacific Theatre of Operations in 1945 alone.
A present day view of the Lombard Street gate. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.
A view of the 6th Army Headquarters building. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.
A view of the Presidio Officers’ Club building. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.
A view of Moraga Hall, which is located in the Officers’ Club. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.
A photo of Moraga Hall taken in 1934.
This flagpole has a sad history. The 2¼ ton, 105½ foot flagpole is the tallest in the San Francisco area. The flagpole marks the site where General John J. Pershing (1860-1948) his wife, his three young daughters and his young son lived in government housing befit a General. 

On 13 January 1914, General Pershing took command of the 8th Infantry Brigade at the Presidio of San Francisco. It wasn’t long, however, before tensions along the Mexican border forced the 8th Infantry to be transferred to Fort Bliss, Texas. 

While her husband was at Fort Bliss, Mrs. Francis Pershing, and the four children remained at the family’s two-story Victorian house at the Presidio. Tragedy struck on Friday 27 August 1915, when hot coals spilled from the hearth of the Pershing home and onto the highly waxed floor. The house was quickly consumed by flames; Mrs. Pershing and her three daughters—Helen Elizabeth, aged eight, Ann Orr, aged seven, and Mary Margaret, aged three—perished in the blaze. Only five-year-old Warren survived after being rescued by Pershing’s orderly. The General’s wife and three daughters were buried in Montana. After the funeral, General Pershing returned to Texas accompanied by his son and his sister.
Warren, General Pershing’s only surviving child, served in the Second World War as an advisor to Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall. Warren Pershing (1909-1980) attained the rank of Colonel. He had two sons Richard (1942-1968) and John (1941-1999). Richard was an Army Second Lieutenant, who was killed in action in Vietnam on 17 February 1968. John attained the rank of Colonel in the Army. He died of cardiovascular disease in 1999. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

The house the Pershing family lived in while at the Presidio. This picture shows the remains of the house after the deadly 27 August 1915 fire. Pershing’s five-year-old son Warren was the only child to survive the blaze; he was rescued through the window indicated by the arrow.
A snippet of an article about the tragedy published by the Chicago Daily Tribune on 28 August 1915. 
A view of the Golden Gate Bridge as seen from near the Presidio’s Main Parade Ground. The building in the lower portion of the photograph was the post’s main commissaryClick on the image to see the full-size photograph.
The Palace of Fine Arts was constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The Palace of Fine Arts was designed by the esteemed architect Bernard Maybeck (1862-1957). Professor Maybeck moved to Berkeley, California in 1892, and was a professor at the University of California, BerkeleyClick on the image to see the full-size photo.


A detail from the Palace of Fine Arts. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.
The entryway to 3460 Baker Street, a private home. It is sited directly east of the Palace of Fine Arts. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

It is now late afternoon, and the fog is barreling in through the Golden Gate. The view is looking North. The buildings on the hillside across San Francisco Bay are homes in the community of Sausalito. The mountain directly ahead is majestic Mount Tamalpais (2,572 feet). Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”-Dorothea Lange

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