The Presidio archaeology program explores, preserves, and shares the history beneath our feet.
The Presidio Trust manages more than 30 archaeological areas within the Presidio National Historic Landmark District (NHLD). These offer a long-term history of these lands – from the Indigenous Ramaytush Ohlone village that was here hundreds of years ago through the occupation of the U.S. Army.
Through our behind-the-scenes work and public programs, we preserve the sites so the public can learn from and enjoy them forever.
When the Presidio transitioned from a U.S. Army post to a national park site, its National Historic Landmark District status was updated to include all of the park’s important historic resources.
In addition to the buildings and cultural landscapes, more than 30 archaeological areas were found to be significant. These areas include the cornerstone of the Presidio Trust’s public archaeology program – the Spanish Colonial site El Presidio de San Francisco.
It also includes less well-known sites: forgotten cemeteries, shipwrecks, Indigenous shell mounds, and coastal fortifications. All of these help us understand American history and are protected under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).
Presidio Trust archaeologists preserve these sites and avoid disruption during park improvement projects. We conduct investigation and research before projects begin and observe construction to make sure sensitive sites are protected.
The Presidio is one of the only national park sites in the country with an active archaeological dig, and it is home to the largest public archaeology project west of the Mississippi.
El Presidio de San Francisco – located near the Presidio Officers’ Club – is the only one of four Spanish fortifications and twenty-one missions in California located in a national park.
That means we can teach a large audience about this irreplaceable resource, the Spanish Colonial period in our nation’s heritage, as well as the methods of archaeology, history, and related sciences. We work with volunteers to engage the public and bring history alive.
The Presidio Archaeology Lab, located next to the Presidio Officers’ Club, is where a lively community engages in the stewardship of the Presidio’s rich archaeological heritage.
The lab demonstrates leadership in the field of archaeology through partnerships which develop innovative approaches to research, education, and preservation that enhance the understanding of our shared cultural heritage.
The lab’s goals are: