Stay informed on history, the latest updates, news, and local San Francisco culture from the Inn at the Presidio.
In this part of the blog we will highlight historical facts about the Inn along with stories about the buildings and districts of the Presidio.
“Launched midst a thousand hopes and fears; Damned by a thousand hostile sneers,” – Joseph B. Strauss, chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge in a poem he wrote to mark its completion in 1937. He died less than a year later.
It is nearly impossible to imagine San Francisco without the iconic orange span of the Golden Gate Bridge. It attracts more than 10 million visitors and at least that many Instagram selfies a year, and is a huge reason visitors flock to the Presidio.
The Inn at the Presidio’s historic Funston House is a renovated officer’s quarters that provides a glimpse into the Presidio at the turn of the century, when it was the epicenter of Army efforts to save San Francisco at its time of greatest need. But who was “Funston”?
Brigadier General Frederick Funston (1865-1917) and his wife Eda Blankart Funston played a pivotal role in saving the city after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. A decorated veteran of the war in the Philippines, Funston was known for his ability to make swift decisions under pressure, an ability that may have saved tens of thousands of lives in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. The Funston family’s importance to the city is memorialized in such places as Funston Avenue, Funston playground, and Fort Funston, as well as the Inn at the Presidio’s Funston House.
50 years ago, the Presidio found itself surrounded by a city in the process of transformation, inspired by a simple four-letter word: LOVE.
In 1967, the world really began to take notice of the cultural revolution happening in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. A growing collection of young artists, musicians, anti-war activists and countercultural icons were breaking free of traditions in every way possible – Jefferson Airplane, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan were singing about love and LSD, anti-war protests were surging, civil rights were becoming the Black Power movement.
These days, “protecting the San Francisco Bay” usually refers to improving water quality, restoring wetlands, or controlling invasive species. But for most of the 20th century, San Francisco Bay was America’s most valuable Pacific port, and the US Government and military invested an enormous amount of time and money building defenses against a feared enemy attack from the sea and air.
Seventy five years ago, ten weeks after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which formed the basis for the mass forced removal and incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Two-thirds were American citizens. The other third, not born in the US, were prohibited by law from becoming US citizens. Over half were children or infants.
One of the best-kept secrets in the Presidio is in a modest brick building that used to be a stable for 102 Army mules and horses. Inside is an amazing trove of photographs, maps, building plans, and other historical treasures – about 5 million items documenting the history of the Presidio and other important historical sites within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This is the Park Archives and Records Center (PARC), and if you are a history buff, graduate student, or are just fascinated by old maps and photographs, you owe it to yourself to come spend a few hours – or days – exploring this place.
August 25th marks the 100th Anniversary of America’s National Park Service, and celebrations are happening at some of the best-known natural wonders in this country. Places like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains. Among these famous national treasures are some lesser known gems like the Presidio that hold not just great historical importance, but also a glimpse into how the National Parks are evolving and making themselves sustainable for the future.
If you had visited Mountain Lake 20 years ago, you would have been underwhelmed. This small urban lake at the southern tip of the Presidio was severely polluted and choked with algae. Resident bird and fish populations were dying off. It was a sad state of affairs for one of the most important natural and historical sites in the city.
Today, after a decade of careful remediation and restoration, Mountain Lake is once again a haven for native wildlife, a resting stop for migrating birds, and a lovely spot for San Franciscans and visitors to enjoy the beauty and history of the city.
Long before centuries of military activity and construction projects covered up the area known as The Tennesse Hollow Watershed, it was home to a system where three creeks and freshwater springs came together to create a natural bird habitat and primary freshwater source for the marsh at Crissy Field.
California is a state with a vast amount of natural and diverse beauty and luckily for us, we also play host to many National Parks that highlight a wide array of landscapes within our borders. Along with the historical significance of the park system, there are also a handful of hotels located inside our state’s National Parks, some have been around longer than the National Park system itself! The Big Trees Lodge in Yosemite, the Drakesbad in Lassen and the Inn at the Presidio in the Presidio are all great examples how guests can not only enjoy the National Parks during the day, but actually have the opportunity to spend the night in a historic and beautiful setting.