Become a Friend of the Lower Presidio

“Friends of the Lower Presidio” Campaign Launched to Raise Private Funds to Restore the Beautiful 25.3-Acre Historic Park Overlooking the Monterey Bay

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February 22, 2016. Monterey, CA.  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 alike. Old Monterey Foundation, in cooperation with the City of Monterey and the Department of the Army, has raised initial funds to complete 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. Old Monterey Foundation invites everyone to become members of “Friends of the Lower Presidio” and make tax-deductible donations to more quickly restore the park.  Our goal is to obtain private donations of $50,000 or more, to combine with funds already received or anticipated to compete the initial phase of the Plan by the end of 2016.

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 on Corporal Ewing Drive 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.sierra_ship web

To become a member of “Friends of the Lower Presidio”, individuals and businesses can donate at www.oldmontereyfoundation.org or call (831) 521-2313 for more information.  Donations to “Friends of Lower Presidio” can be accessed from a pull down menu at the upper right of the site, and donations can be made by any major credit card or PayPal.  These donations will help Old Monterey Foundation to complete the immediate goal of completing Phase One of the project in 2016, and allow progress toward completing Phases Two and Three in time for the 200th Anniversary of the Bouchard Raid in 1818 and Monterey’s 250th birthday in June 2020.

Click Here To Become a Friend of the Lower Presidio.

Checks may also be sent to: Old Monterey Foundation, 98 Del Monte Avenue, Monterey, CA 93940.

Note: All donations are tax-deductible. Federal Tax ID#45- 1343649, Old Monterey Foundation. For additional information, call (831) 521-2313. Individuals can choose to give anonymously or receive recognition as described below.

Get Recognized! Become a Donor or Sponsor of the Lower Presidio 

$50 Donation – Friend

  • Receives Lower Presidio Historic Park Quarterly Newsletter
  • Invitation to all LPHP events.

$100 and more Founding Friend

  • Receives Commemorative Pin

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    Friends Pin
  • Lower Presidio Historic Park Quarterly Newsletter
  • Invitation to all LPHP events
  • With confirmation of interest, donor receives a mention on the website, and mention on Facebook.

$500 – Sebastian Viscaino Sponsor

  • Company or Name included in Opening Event Thank You Ad
  • Private Tour of Lower Presidio Historic Park
  • Company or Name listing in Quarterly Newsletter
  • Commemorative Pin

$1000 – Gaspar de Portola Sponsor

Receives all of the above benefits plus…

  • Permanent acknowledgement and Company logo on Old Monterey Foundation website
  • Acknowledgement at Grand Opening event
  • 2 VIP invitations to Grand Opening event

$2500 – Ft. Mervine Sponsor

Receives all of the above benefits plus…

  • Logo Opportunity in Official Park Map
  • Permanent Company or Name listed on Recognition Wall
  • Company listing in Lower Presidio Historic Park press releases
  • Permanent Acknowledgement and Company logo on Old Monterey Foundation website
  • Company or Name included in Opening Event Thank You Ad

$5000 – Commodore Sloat Sponsor

Receives all of the above benefits plus…

  • Logo Opportunity in Official Park Brochure
  • Company Banner display at Grand Opening event (5’ banner)
  • 4 VIP invitations to Grand Opening event
  • VIP invitations to other Old Monterey Foundation events

$10,000 – El Castillo Sponsor

Receives all of the above benefits plus…

• Introduction/Opportunity to Speak (2-3 mins) at Grand Opening event

With the help of donations and grants, Phase One of the project will give the Lower Presidio Historic Park the look and feel of an historic public park, including improved way-finding and identification entry signs to assist the public in accessing the site and highlighting several of the important historic periods at the Presidio; development of pathways, benches and interpretive signs and monuments on the site; replacement of the old cyclone perimeter fence with a wood-appearing historically accurate fence, minimal branch/tree removal where necessary to assure views of the Monterey Harbor and restore it to the way it was seen historically; and development of an ADA approved path leading to the Sloat Monument, the highest point of the site. Headless Padre Serra Old Monterey Foundation is now also seeking funds to restore the Father Serra statue that was recently vandalized.

So far, $365,000 has been raised of an anticipated $680,000 cost for Phase One, including $215,000 from Monterey’s Neighborhood Improvement Program, $50,000 from The Community Foundation for Monterey County for the Park’s new fence, and $20,000 from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation for a public relations fund and signs. The Monterey Regional Park District has donated $2,500, while the Monterey County Gives! Campaign contributed $4,000.  Most recently, the Rotary Club of Monterey has graciously adopted the Park improvements as its “legacy project” and has committed $50,000 to the final design, construction and installation of unique signs into and around the Park.

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Proposed entrance Sign at Artillery Gate
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All Signs

Old Monterey Foundation continues to work with many other stakeholder groups, including City of Monterey, Old Monterey Business Association, Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, State of California and more. They look forward to collaborating with the public and other organizations locally and throughout the world.

Eric Palmer and Anne McGrath of the City of Monterey Outreach Office recently completed an informative short video about the Lower Presidio Historic Park and its significance to California and American history:  https://youtu.be/Lg7X0spnC4k

About the History  

Why is the Lower Presidio Historic Park considered by many professional historians as “The Most Historically Significant Site on the West Coast”? Why is it a great place to become immersed in California history? There are many major historic highlights of this site which include:

  • Prehistoric archeological presence of indigenous tribes.
  • Spanish period that begins with the landing in 1602 of Sebastian Viscaino, 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.

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.

Bill McCrone, Secretary of the Old Monterey Foundation, explains the importance of restoring the Lower Presidio Historic Park, “If one came to Monterey to study its history and importance to California, where would you start? What one place contains all of the significant history of California’s First Capitol from its occupation by the native Ohlone tribes, to its discovery by Europeans before the time of the founding of Jamestown in Virginia, through four national and state governments, to the present day tourist mecca and thriving seaside Charter City? What site was the scene of the only battle between sovereign nations in California history? Colton Hall? San Carlos Cathedral? Cannery Row? The Custom House? No. None of those places quite fits the task. Instead, you would start at the Presidio Hill overlooking the Harbor and Monterey BayFullSizeRender-2—the site where Sebastian Viscaino claimed the land for the King of Spain in 1602 and named the area “Monterey”. It’s here where the history of California commences and evolves over 250 years to our present day. This prominent hill has participated in or seen the evolution of California from the start.”

Visiting the Lower Presidio Historic Park

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 frisbee 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.

About the Old Monterey Foundation and the Lower Presidio Historic Park Project

In 1996, the City of Monterey acquired the approximately 25.3 acres of public land at the Lower Presidio from the Department of the Army with a 50-year lease for the purpose of developing a public historic park.  A Master Plan was then written to improve the Lower Presidio Historic Park by the City of Monterey in 2002 but nothing has happened since then due to the City’s budgetary constraints.

In 2014, the Old Monterey Foundation stepped forward to lead a public/private campaign to restore 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.  They 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.

To arrange an interview with Bill McCrone, Secretary of Old Monterey Foundation, please contact Wendy Brickman at (831) 633-4444 or email brickman@brickmanmarketing.com. For more information and directions, to donate and become a member of the Friends of the Lower Presidio, to volunteer and learn about future Old Monterey Foundation events, go to www.oldmontereyfoundation.org.

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