Presidio’s Arguello Gate

 Posted by on January 4, 2013
Jan 042013

Arguello and Pacific
Entry to the Presidio

The Arguello Gate was built by the Army in 1896. The designer was architect J.B. Whittemore.  The gate was commissioned in 1895 and installed between 1896 and 1897.

Over the decades, it experienced much wear and tear, including being hit by a truck in 1996. This collision knocked off one of the beautifully carved sandstone capstones. Additionally, one of the large piers upon which the capstones sit had a crack so sizable that a passerby could see through to the other side.

In 2008, the Presidio Trust worked with master carver Oleg Lobykin, founder of Stonesculpt, to repair the historic gate and its adjacent walls, and to recreate the intricate carvings on the capstone. “We very much respect the labor which went into creating something like that. It’s a monument. It’s an artifact. It’s a piece of history. So we try to preserve it as much as we can,” said Lobykin.
In 2009, the Presidio Trust was honored with a Preservation Design Award in the Craftsmanship Category from the California Preservation Foundation its efforts.
 Essayons is the motto of the US ARMY CORP of Engineers. The literal meaning of essayons is “let us try” in French.  It is the only non-latin motto in the U.S. Army heraldry.
The US Army Corps of Engineers was created during America’s War for Independence, with the support of professional French Military Engineers. Today, that French heritage is still seen not only in its motto but within the language of the Engineer – “abatis,” “gabions,” “fascines” and “pontons” — all have their roots in 18th century France.
A reader sent me the following, that I found very interesting:
You know that American Eagle with the olive branch and arrows? During peacetime the eagle is supposed to be facing the olive branch while during wartime it faces the arrows. This means that U.S. military officers need to buy a new hat when a war starts. Admiral Spruance was too cheap for that so in pictures from WW2 he is usually the only one with the eagle facing the olive branch.
Yes I had to look up Admiral Spruance, this is what Wikipedia had to say:

Raymond Ames Spruance (July 3, 1886 – December 13, 1969) was a United States Navy admiral in World War II.

Spruance commanded US naval forces during two of the most significant naval battles that took place in the Pacific theater, the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The Battle of Midway was the first major victory for the United States over Japan and is seen by many as the turning point of the Pacific war. The Battle of the Philippine Sea was also a significant victory for the US. The Navy’s official historian said of the Battle of Midway “…Spruance’s performance was superb…(he) emerged from this battle one of the greatest admirals in American naval history”. After the war, Spruance was appointed President of the Naval War College, and later served as American ambassador to the Philippines.

Spruance was nicknamed “electric brain” for his calmness even in moments of supreme crisis: a reputation enhanced by his successful tactics at Midway.

  2 Responses to “Presidio’s Arguello Gate”

  1. I’m so glad that they have restored this. I love these old carvings!

  2. Correction: “Essayons” is the motto of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. Not a division of it. Additionally it is also the only non-Latin motto in U.S. Army Heraldry.