The Journal of San Diego History
October 1968, Volume 14, Number 4
Rita Larkin, Editor

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 Presidio Park
Cover image: Visitors to Presidio Park, in late August and early September 1968, were intrigued and awed by the antics of a huge bird which hovered over their heads, scarcely, it seemed, missing the tree tops. In persistant fashion it circled the Royal Presidio Excavations, its twin motors clattering and clapping through the skies. This aerial view of the Royal Presidio Excavations taken by a U.S.Navy helicopter at 800 feet was the result of the “buzzing” of the excavations.

Dr. Paul Exell, Project Superintendent of the Royal Presidio Excavations, had long dreamed of the desirability of obtaining some vertical photos of the Excavations, Director of Junipero Serra Museum, John S. Chambers, discussed the possibility with the Commander of Fleet Air Wing, San Diego, Naval Air Station North Island. Fleet Air Wing consented to take the photos. The San Diego History Center is thankful to Fleet Air Wing and Fleet Air Photo Lab., North island, for its work in obtaining for us this unusual view of the Royal Presidio Excavations.

Back cover image of Presidio Park

Note also the new aerial view of Junípero Serra Museum which appears on the back cover of this issue of the Journal of San Diego History. This photo also was taken through the courtesy of Fleet Air Photo Lab., NAS, N.1.)

Sketch of Presidio Chapel

Page 5. This sketch is Presidio Chapel as excavated thus far. The drawing was made by graduate student, Noel Broadbent.

drawing of Royal Presidio of San Diego

Page 7. Believed to be of the Royal Presidio of San Diego, this drawing was found in August, 1968, hanging on a wall in the Estudillo House. The sketch covered a plaque dated 1910. The artist is unknown. Those cloud-shaped swirls are wall paper design, showing through from the back.

Page 14.

Ground-breaking ceremonies

Page 17. Ground-breaking ceremonies in the spring of 1965 attracted the attention of visitors. The excavations are a constant source of interest to children. (Photo furnished by Union-Tribune Publishing Co.)

exposing foundation of Presidio wall

Page 17. A student is shown exposing foundation of Presidio wall.

infant burial site

Page 19. When Presidio excavations began in 1965 it was not thought that the chapel being uncovered would prove to be a cemetery. This photo shows work being conducted on a multiple infant burial site in the side chapel in 1968. (For details see Part V-Disintering Some Burials.)

burial excavations

Page 22. These are the remains of Henry Delano Fitch. The photo shows cross, two hearts and letters H.D.F., formed of copper tacks, which originally were placed in the coffin top.

Page 24. This is the way things looked on that first morning of the burial excavations.

best preserved coffin

Page 24. This is the best preserved coffin found at the burial site. The top caved in on the remains, which were almost completely disintegrated.

decorative elements

Page 26. This photo shows the burial containing letters “J.A.,” with a cross. These decorative elements were all that remained of the coffin top. (These are elements being removed in photo, below.)

plaster casts containing coffin decoration

Page 26. A student lifts plaster casts containing coffin decoration from burial in photo above.


Page 28. It is presumed that this individual was a sailor, because of the number of buttons found on the pelvis. This was one of the best preserved of the skeletons.

Three diggers

Page 31. Three diggers in conference. Rear left is Pat Hale, rear right, Dr. Paul Ezell. In front, with her back to the camera, is Mrs. J. Francis Mergen.