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Cross-Town Adobe-Slinging; My Mud is More Intact Than Yours

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Mission Dolores c. 1881 Photo Credit: steveningen via the Curbed Flickr Pool]

The San Francisco Examiner's got a piece today on who's older- the Presidio Officers' Club or Mission Dolores. Archaeologists have been working away at the Officers' club since it closed in the early part of this century, peeling away layers to unearth what was once the commandante's quarters and are speculating that some elements do indeed date back to 1776, the year of the military installation's founding. They expect the club to reopen to the public next year with the vintage adobe fragments left exposed for viewing. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Mission Dolores curator Andrew Garvin lays claim in The Examiner:

?the oldest standing intact building dedicated to Christian worship in the modern state of California? but he posited that walls alone can’t capture the entire character of a building as it was during its inception. He said Mission Dolores has that tangibility over the Officers’ Club. “I am not going to lose sleep if they make these statements. Some people live in a fantasy land?”OK! And some of us just watch Hitchcock's Vertigo.

Presidio Officers' Club [Photo Credit: The Presidio Trust]

San Francisco may have been Spain's northernmost settlement, but it certainly wasn't cutting any edges. It's illuminating that the Spanish continued to use an unsuitable building material for San Francisco despite the weather and plentiful timber just down the peninsula. Adobe is notoriously susceptible to moisture, and the Spanish, lacking a timber-building tradition, continued with adobe as the default construction technique. Aside from Russian fur trade (baby seals!) settlements further up the coast, Northern California didn't have timber buildings until Anglos arrived here in the mid-1800s- many early buildings got here (dis-assembled) by ship- with saws.
· Presidio Building Could Be San Francisco's Oldest [SF Examiner]
· Officers' Club Research [Presidio Trust]
The Presidio: Get Down and Dirty With the Archaeologists [Curbed SF]

Mission Dolores Basilica

3321 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

The Presidio Trust

34 Graham Street, San Francisco, CA 94129