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Lower Presidio Historic Park Walking Tours
September 16, 2017 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Old Monterey Foundation’s Monthly “Lower Presidio Historic Park Walking Tours” to focus on Fort Mervine on Saturday, September 16, 2017
Old Monterey Foundation continues to team up with noted Monterey Bay historian and author, Tim Thomas, who offers outstanding “Lower Presidio Historic Park Walking Tours” on the third Saturday of every month from 10:00 AM – Noon.
The next walking tour will be held on Saturday, September 16, 2017: “Lower Presidio Historic Park Walking Tour: “Focus on Fort Mervine”. Tim Thomas will discuss the era of Fort Mervine at Lower Presidio Historic Park.
Background History from the City of Monterey:
The First American Fort on the Pacific After the United States took control of the Mexican capital of California at Monterey in July 1846, the US Army built its first American fort on the west coast on this hill. Fort Mervine overlooks the harbor, located above what had been an earlier Spanish and Mexican fort called “El Castillo.” It was eventually named for Captain William Mervine.
Under direction from Commodore Sloat, Captain Mervine led the forces ashore to raise the American flag over the Custom House of Monterey. Construction of the fort began in 1846 under the direction of engineer Lt. Henry Halleck and the supervision of Lt. Edward O. C. Ord. Both men would later go on to become notable Civil War generals as would a young lieutenant who assisted in the fort’s construction named William Tecumseh Sherman. The fort was completed in 1847.
Fort Mervine was first known as Fort Stockton in honor of the Navy commander of the Pacific Squadron. When the U. S. Army’s Third Artillery arrived in 1847, they renamed it “Monterey Redoubt.” But the renaming didn’t stop. The fort was called Fort Hill, Fort Savannah (for Commodore Sloat’s flagship), Fort Halleck, and so on at various times. But Fort Mervine is the name that finally stuck. Fort Mervine consisted of barracks, officer’s quarters, a bakery, and other buildings enclosed by a wood palisade atop an earthen mound. It was 650 feet long and 400 feet wide with ravelins – angled, fortified embankments housing artillery pieces – at each corner. Today only the forward ravelin remains, mounted with four 1861 Siege rifles and one 24-pound siege howitzer.
The fort closed in 1852 during the Gold Rush, then was reactivated during the Civil War, only to be closed again in 1865. The ruins of Fort Mervine now stand as the ancestor to the present day Presidio of Monterey.
Tours meet in front of the City of Monterey’s Presidio of Monterey Museum, 113 Corporal Ewing, Building #113. From Monterey, take Pacific Street past the Monterey Conference Center and the First Theater to the end of Pacific where it forks, take the left fork;, turn left onto Artillery Road, turn right on Corporal Ewing Road and follow it a short way to the Presidio of Monterey Museum in the center of the Park against the hill; from Pacific Grove, take Lighthouse Avenue in New Monterey, bear right to go onto Pacific Street and then go to Artillery Road, turn right, and then turn right on Corporal Ewing Road and follow it to the Presidio of Monterey Museum. Note: in the month of September 2017, there will be some construction in the area so please check out http://www.oldmontereyfoundation.org).
Advance reservations are required by calling Tim Thomas at (831) 521-3304 or via email email@example.com. The tour is for ages 10-adult only and the cost is $20 for adults and kids are $15 (10-15 years). Group rates are also available.
About Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas, fourth-generation native of the Monterey area, is a popular speaker and lively tour guide. For 16 years, he was historian and curator for the Monterey Maritime & History Museum and has worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California State Parks and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. He is author of “The Abalone King of Monterey: ‘Pop’ Ernest Doelter,” “The Japanese on the Monterey Peninsula” and co-author of “Monterey’s Waterfront.” Tim also conducts monthly “Wharf Walks” on Monterey’s Old Fisherman’s Wharf and offers Cannery Row walking tours, as well.
About the Lower Presidio Historic Park
The Old Monterey Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was formed on February 14, 2011, with the specific mission and purpose of promoting, supporting and enhancing the artistic, cultural and historic environment of historic Downtown Monterey, California. The group is well known for their work with the Art-in-the-Adobes event that was held from 2011-2013 as well as other fundraisers, lectures and events. Its private/public partnership with the City of Monterey heralds a new way of doing public business in a State strapped to find funds for park operations and expansions.
The Lower Presidio Historic Park, described as “The Most Historically Significant Site on the West Coast” and “One of the Most Beautiful Places in Monterey” is on its way to becoming a true historic public park to be enjoyed by locals and visitors. Old Monterey Foundation, in cooperation with the City of Monterey, has raised initial funds to begin Phase One of the project to enhance and restore this historic 25.3-acre site and is now seeking public donations to help complete Phase One of the $680,000 project.
The Lower Presidio Historic Park is one of the least-visited historic parks in the area due to some confusion about whether the public is allowed in the area. Situated in a “hidden in plain sight” location, the Park can be found above Pacific Street at the Lighthouse Curve in Downtown Monterey. The park features spectacular views of the Monterey Bay and Harbor and will become a jewel of the City of Monterey’s park system. Lower Presidio Historic Park is considered by many professional historians as “The Most Historically Significant Site on the West Coast”. There is current on-going work to raise funds to restore and enhance this 25.3 acre park with incredible views of the Monterey Bay. Old Monterey Foundation is seeking additional funds to go along the two trails, and for historic signs, park benches and more.
Old Monterey Foundation invites everyone to become members of “Friends of the Lower Presidio” at www.oldmontereyfoundation.org and make tax-deductible donations to more quickly restore the park.
The City of Monterey Outreach Office produced an informative short video about the Lower Presidio Historic Park and its significance to California and American history: https://youtu.be/Lg7X0spnC4k.
There are many major historic highlights of this site that Tim Thomas will discuss in depth over the coming months which include:
· Prehistoric archeological presence of indigenous tribes tracing back 10,000 years.
· Spanish period that begins with the landing in 1602 of Sebastian Vizcaino, who discovered the Monterey Bay and named the land, “Monterey”, after the Viceroy of Mexico; followed by Father Junipero Serra and Gaspar de Portola in 1770; including the first El Castillo (Presidio) up through the Argentinian Hipolite Bouchard’s raid in 1818 when he attacked and sacked the City of Monterey, which is the only land and sea battle ever to occur on the West Coast of the United States.
· Mexican period (beginning in 1821 until the U.S. occupation, including the mistaken invasion in 1842 by Commodore Catesby-Jones, commanding the U.S. Pacific Squadron.
· In 1846, Commodore John Drake Sloat captured Monterey and El Castillo at the beginning of the Mexican American War.
· American/California period beginning in 1846, including the enactment of the first California Constitution in 1849 through the period that includes when Fort Mervine was a coastal defense and cavalry post.
· In 1866, Fort Mervine was abandoned by the Army.
· In 1901, reopening of the post by the Army as a cavalry and artillery garrison, and among its first units is the 9th Cavalry, the “Buffalo Soldiers”.
· Modern era from the turn of the century when the Presidio became primarily a military training facility in 1940.
· In 1940, the 11th Cavalry, Buffalo Soldiers and the last mounted regiment in Army history, departs to patrol the MEXICAN BORDER. The Presidio then becomes a training post for civil administration officers being sent to occupied territory during World War II.
· In 1946, the Presidio becomes the Military Intelligence Service Language School, which evolves into the Defense Language Institute as it is known today.
For more information, go to www.oldmontereyfoundation.org or call (831) 521-2313.
About the Presidio Museum of Monterey
The Presidio Museum of Monterey, also located on the site and operated by the City of Monterey, is an excellent place to currently view exhibits, artifacts, and videos that lead visitors through Monterey’s various stages of military development from the indigenous period which highlights the area’s native populations; through the Spanish and Mexican periods; and up to present day.
The Presidio Museum of Monterey is open Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Visiting the Lower Presidio Historic Park Today
This centrally located site has tremendous potential for all park-goers. It can be a first stop for any visitor to the Monterey Peninsula with its gorgeous views, perfect for their photos and memories of the area. It is a great destination for simply relaxing, walking, running, biking, hiking, playing disc golf, touch football, doing yoga and other exercise, enjoying picnics with family or friends, meeting for reunions and it is even a unique place for wedding proposals. Artists and photographers will find it a wonderful site for their work and many other target groups will be invited to visit. Students can come to the park as well as any visitor to the area who wants to learn more about California history.
Currently, it can be visited at any time of day but it is important to pack in and out any food or items brought to the site. If desired, visitors may choose to bring a chair or small table for a lunch or dinner with an extraordinary view. Ultimately, when Phase One of the project is concluded, there will be benches, tables and trash receptacles.
For more information, go to www.oldmontereyfoundation.org or call (831) 521-2313.