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Historic Preservation at the Presidio

We’re rehabilitating buildings, structures, and landscapes that tell the story of our nation’s past.

We’re rehabilitating this National Historic Landmark District, with hundreds of buildings, structures, and landscapes.

The Presidio Trust oversees one of the largest and most ambitious historic preservation projects in the United States.

Since we began work in 1997, we and our partners have rehabilitated nearly five million square feet of built space in the Presidio National Historic Landmark District (NHLD). We’ve put hundreds of historic buildings back into service.

This work preserves our history while making the Presidio a lively national park site where people visit, live, and work. Along the way, we’ve earned numerous awards for historic preservation and successful collaborations with partners.

Bringing the Historic Presidio Back to Life

In partnership with state, local, and national preservation stakeholders, along with our development partners, we’ve brought the historic Presidio back to life as a thriving place, while sharing its deep history through preservation of its buildings, landscapes, and stories.

The park’s historic buildings and landscapes are maintained by our experienced staff of tradespeople, along with specialty contractors with deep experience working with historic properties.

Historic Preservation by the Numbers

  • 350+ historic buildings rehabilitated
  • 50 acres of historic forest replanted
  • 14 historic neighborhoods rehabilitated
  • 40+ state, local, and national preservation awards earned
  • 9 federal historic preservation tax credit projects completed

What is a National Historic Landmark

National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) are historic properties that illustrate the heritage of the United States. There are more than 2,600 in the United States. They come in many forms: historic buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts. Each represents an outstanding aspect of American history and culture.

Case Study 1: Historic Residential Neighborhoods

The Presidio was once home to U.S. Army soldiers and their families. Beginning in the 1860s, the Army built hundreds of housing units in a variety of architectural styles across 15 now-historic neighborhoods. Today, we’ve rehabilitated the park’s historic residential units, again providing homes for families. Rents from residents help operate and maintain the Presidio.

Rehabilitating Residences

Soldiers training with bayonets at the Presidio in 1918
Bayonet drills were conducted below Infantry Terrace, 1918. Image courtesy of NARA.
Infantry Terrace neighborhood in the fog.
The Infantry Terrace neighborhood has provided housing for families for more than 100 years.
Infantry Terrace neighborhood in the fog. Portola Street neighborhood in 1950.
Portola Street neighborhood as seen in 1950.
Portola neighborhood as seen from across the Tennessee Hollow Watershed.
Portola Street neighborhood from across Tennessee Hollow.
Pilots Row house interior being renovated.
Pilots Row underwent rehabilitation in 2005.
Bicyclist rides down Lincoln Boulevard in front of Pilots Row.
Pilots Row neighborhood as seen today.

Case Study 2: The Presidio Theatre

Completed in 1939, the Presidio Theatre originally served U.S. Army soldiers and their families, primarily showing films but also hosting radio stars and Hollywood legends such as Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Marlene Dietrich. The Margaret E. Haas Fund and Presidio Trust partnered on an award-winning rehabilitation project that returned the building to service in 2019 as a multi-media performing arts space.

Bringing a Theatre Back to Life

Presidio Theatre as seen in 1939.
Presidio Theatre as seen after construction in 1939. Image courtesy NARA.
Jack Benny in front of Presidio Theatre in a jeep in 1942.
Jack Benny performed at the Presidio Theatre in 1942 during World War Two. Image courtesy University of Wyoming.
Presidio Theatre after rehabilitation in 2019.
Presidio Theatre after rehabilitation in 2019.
Interior of the Presidio Theatre during rehabilitation.
The interior of the Presidio Theatre was fully rehabilitated.

Case Study 3: Battery Bluff

Constructed between 1898 and 1907, these four coast artillery batteries helped to protect San Francisco from attack until they were decommissioned in 1920. The western tunnels of the new Presidio Parkway created an opportunity to restore the batteries within a carefully designed landscape featuring accessible trails, overlooks, and picnic areas. Today, it’s called Battery Bluff.

A New Use for Old Batteries

Battery Sherwood in 1920.
Battery Sherwood was built from 1900 to 1905 (seen here in 1920).
Battery Bluff as seen in 2022.
Battery Bluff sits above the Presidio Parkway.
Recently restored coastal gun battery.
The restored Battery Sherwood.
Gun batteries next to Presidio Parkway as it is being constructed.
Coast artillery structures were protected during Presidio Parkway construction.

Case Study 4: West Crissy Field Buildings

In 1921, the U.S. Army added to the Presidio an air coast defense station at Crissy Field. Today, the airfield’s rehabilitated hangars and maintenance shops serve a variety of recreational uses, including a children’s swim school, climbing gym, trampoline gym, and bicycle retail.

Adaptive Reuse at an Airfield

Dozens of soldiers at Crissy Field in 1921.
Pilots and their aircraft as seen at Crissy Field in 1921. Image courtesy GGNRA Park Archives.
Army dirigible above Crissy Field in 1922.
An Army dirigible arrives in 1922 after its cross-country flight. Image courtesy Western Neighborhoods Project.
Aircraft in front of the hangars at Crissy Field in 1924.
Aircraft parked in front of the hangars at Crissy Field in 1924. Image courtesy GGNRA, Park Archives.
Exterior of Building 933 at Crissy Field. Photo by Ric Miller.
A former airplane maintenance shop is now home to a swim school. Photo by Ric Miller.
Several historic buildings at the west end of Crissy Field, with the Golden Gate Bridge.
West Crissy airfield buildings have been adaptively reused.

Contact Us About Historic Preservation

If you have questions about historic preservation at the Presidio, reach out to Rob Thomson, Federal Preservation Officer, at

Historic photo of guard house, now Visitor Center.