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.
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: there will be construction in the area during September.
Advance reservations are required by calling Tim Thomas at (831) 521-3304 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.