MS 71 Presidio Park Collection

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
San Diego Historical Society.
Presidio Park Collection
MS 71
Date [inclusive]
0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
Collection materials are in English and Spanish.
The collection consists of materials on the San Diego Presidio and its development into Presidio Park, including narratives, visitor information, and documents on the Presidio Park Excavation Project.

Preferred Citation

Presidio Park Collection, MS 71, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

Presidio Park is the historical landmark of the birth of the mission system and first European settlement on the west coast of the United States. On July 16, 1769, Father Junipero Serra erected a cross and held the first mass on Presidio Hill establishing the site of Mission San Diego de Alcala. By the late 1830s, the site was abandoned and left in ruin. In 1907, George W. Marston, a pioneer San Diego civic leader and philanthropist, and a group of friends recognized the need to preserve Presidio Hill and purchased the site. Marston oversaw construction at Presidio Hill, creating Presidio Park and the Serra Museum. On July 16, 1929, Marston presented Presidio Park as a gift to the City of San Diego and the Serra Museum as a gift to the San Diego Historical Society.

In 1965, the San Diego Historical Society initiated the Presidio Park Excavation Project. This project was designed for the purpose of developing a comprehensive profile of San Diego’s earliest settlement. Test excavations at the southwest edge of Presidio Hill unearthed ruins that belonged to the presidio’s chapel. The excavations of the chapel complex were under the direction of Paul Ezell of San Diego State University and Diane Barbolla of San Diego Mesa College. After excavations of the chapel complex were completed in June 1976, excavations on the western portion of Presidio Hill began in order to identify the original entranceway of the presidio. Ezell has estimated that it would take about fifty years to examine the entire excavatable area of the Presidio.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains materials on the San Diego Presidio and Presidio Park. Included in the collection are copies of documents from the Presidio area during Spanish rule in the late 18th century, and copies and transcriptions of publications on the Presidio’s history and the development of Presidio Park. It also includes programs and a magazine commemorating the inaugural opening of Presidio Park in 1929, Presidio Park brochures and horticulture guides, as well as narratives and maps on the Presidio Park Excavation Project which began in 1965.

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Items in collection are arranged by subject.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection July 7, 2011

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sean Flores on July 7, 2011.

Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Presidio Park Excavation Project.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Presidio Hill
  • Presidio Park
  • San Diego (Calif.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Ezell, Paul H. (Paul Howard), 1913-1988
  • Marston, George White, 1850-1946
  • Serra, Junipero, 1713-1784


  • Archaeology
  • Excavation
  • Horticulture

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Collection Inventory

Spanish-era Presidio documents (copies and transcripts) (some in Spanish), 1781–1800


Inventory and supplies listings with costs, 1781-1799 (transcripts).

“Provincia de Californias. Jurisdicion de San Diego” by Manuel Rodriguez. Population census, 1798 (copy).

Letter from Salvador Byar Soldado to Manuel Rodriguez regarding construction projects, December 31, 1800 (copy).

San Diego Presidio research notes, 1798-1938 1:2
Presidio Park articles and research notes (copies and transcripts), 1929–1964 and undated


Issue of San Diego Magazine dedicated to Presidio in honor of George W. Marston’s gift of Presidio Park and Museum to San Diego, July 1929.

Visitor information brochures, 1932–1980 1:4
Event programs, 1929 July 16 and undated


Dedication ceremony program for Presidio Hill Park and address by James A. Blaisdell for the Junipero Serra Museum, July 16, 1929.

Horticulture, 1933-1961 and undated


Informational pamphlets, guides, and articles on plants in Presidio Park.

Presidio Park Excavation Project, 1969-1982 and undated


Two oversize maps of the San Diego Presidio Chapel Excavations (in Oversize Documents D2):

“San Diego Presidio Chapel excavations as of April 1969 by Henry G. Wylie for Dr. Paul H. Ezell, May 1969, traced copy number 3.”

“Original drawing done by Cal Ritchie in 1974. Updated by Richard L. Carrico and Dr. Paul H. Ezell in 1980.”


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