Historical association requests historic status for Presidio

In a move to stop the building of a new 100,000 square foot structure, the Presidio Historical Association has requested the Presidio of San Francisco be considered for Most Endangered Historic Site status.

The request was submitted Tuesday to the National Trust, which is creating its 2008 list of the country’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

In August, the Presidio trust requested a proposal from Gap Inc. founder Donald Fisher to build a museum to house his contemporary art collection at the Presidio’s Main Post.

The PHA submitted a plan to build an alternative to Fisher’s museum, a History Center at the Golden Gate. According to the PHA, the Presidio has not had a history museum since 1994.

In addition, PHA officials said an 80,000-square-foot hotel could be built nearby.

“This precious historical site must be preserved for future generations and protected from incompatible structures and uses that would destroy its integrity forever,” said PHA President Gary Widman.

The Presidio was a military garrison from 1776 through 1994, when it became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is a designated National Historic Landmark District.

“The design … is absurdly inappropriate,” landscape architect Lawrence Halprin said of Fisher’s proposed structure. “It would ruin the unique architectural character of the Presidio.”

Accordingto the Presidio Trust, Fisher and his wife would pay for the construction and operations of the museum, which would house works by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Gerhard Richter and Ellsworth Kelly among others.

“The presence of a major cultural institution, such as the one proposed by the Fishers, would be an important catalyst for attracting other vibrant, public-serving uses to the Main Post,” said Craig Middleton, Presidio Trust Executive Director. “The Trust envisions the Main Post, once the ceremonial and administrative center for a military community, as the cultural and civic center for this unique national park.”

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