THE PRESIDIO, San Francisco, CA; The Officers’ Club, 50 Moraga Ave

Felling Date: Winter 1847/8

Rafters (1/6) 1847(C); Tiebeams (0/2); Ex situ block (0/1).

Site Master 1699-1847 pre1 (t = 5.3 CA525; 5.2 CA501; 5.1 CA066; 4.9 CA517; 4.6 CA621). Latitude: 37.797121 / Longitude: -122.457895

The Spanish Empire established the Presidio in 1776 as its most northern military post. Severe damage by an earthquake in 1812, and lack of support over the ensuing years, resulted in the fort becoming run down when it was taken over by Mexico in 1822. In 1835 Comandante General Mariano Vallejo moved the garrison north to Sonoma, leaving only a small presence at the Presidio. By the time the California territory was transferred by treaty to the United States in 1848, the buildings were virtually ruinous. However, they were immediately repaired, just as gold was discovered, heralding the 1849 Gold Rush. The Presidio was reserved for military use by executive order of President Fillmore in 1850, and has remained in the hands of the military until 1996. The Officers’ Club, originally constructed as the commandants quarters, has some adobe walls dating back to either the original construction of the fort in 1776-8, or to the reconstruction following the 1812 earthquake, and is thought to be one of the oldest buildings in the state.

Nine timbers were sampled – five coast redwood and four Douglas-fir. Three of the samples were complete to the bark edge. Two of the Douglas-fir samples had about 50 rings or less and were complacent in nature. Although none of the samples cross-matched between them, one of the redwood rafters did date individually when compared to almost 150 living tree chronologies for California obtained from the ITRDB. As this sample retained bark, a felling date of winter 1847/8 could be ascribed to this sample. Although more samples are required to reinforce the dating and to better understand the development of the building, the date nevertheless suggests that the roof was replaced shortly after the Presidio was taken over from the Mexicans in 1848.

Miles, D H, and Worthington, M J, 2006 “The Tree-Ring Dating of the Officers’ Club, the Presidio, San Francisco, California”, ODL unpubl rep 2006/01.

Commissioner: National Park Service Webpage




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