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The Presidio has housed a great many men and women during its time as a military enclave. The Inn itself, once known as Pershing Hall (named after General John Pershing) was built in 1903 and was separated into three sections as a fire precaution. When we opened our doors as an Inn, we decided to keep the tradition of honoring noteworthy individuals alive by naming each wing after a general who has served here. Below is a brief look into the lives of three men and how they have made their mark on the history of the Presidio.
John “Blackjack” Pershing
General John Pershing, a life long over-achiever rose through the ranks at a swift pace and successfully lead multiple troops to battle on various fronts around the world. Pershing was known for his bravery and was seen as a commanding force. He gained the nickname “Blackjack” because of his position leading the 10th Cavalry Regiment, one of the original Buffalo Soldier Regiments, composed of African-American soldiers.
In 1913, Pershing was ordered to take command of the 8th Brigade housed in the Presidio. It was during this time that his wife and three daughters sadly perished in a house-fire here…the only remaining survivor being his son. Pershing retired from the military on his 64th birthday having fought in the Cuba, the Philippines and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. Pershing also retired with the ranking of General of Armies of the United States…the highest ranking position possible. It is also because of Pershing that the Presidio has a firehouse of its own.
General Erasmus Keyes commanded the Presidio beginning in 1849. It was a very interesting time in San Francisco as it was the beginning of the gold rush and because of that it was a very hard time to keep soldiers in the military when they could earn as much in a day as a gold minor as they could in a month as a soldier. It was during this time that it became permitted for enlisted men to take on other side jobs as an incentive to keep them from deserting. Keyes took full advantage of this by becoming involved in surveying and real estate, accumulating a tidy sum for himself in the process. He eventually became a prominent leader in the savings and loans business and even went on to become the President of a Mexican gold mining company. Keyes passed away in Nice, France while on vacation with his wife. He is buried in West Point Cemetery.
James Allen Hardie graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1843 at the age of 20 and so began his many years of professional military service. Hardie served in the Presidio as the Military Commandant during the Mexican-American War. It was during this time that he also participated in Indian campaigns as the aide to Brigadier General John E. Wool. in 1861 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and participated in many military campaigns during the Civil War. In 1864 he was appointed Inspector General with the rank of colonel. After the Civil War, Hardie continued to serve as an Inspector General of the Army. Hardie passed away in Washington D.C. having served 37 years in the military. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery.