Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Medical Storage Depot, San Francisco
Port of Embarkation
(Medical Section, San Francisco
This facility should not be confused for
the San Francisco Medical Depot located at 1855 Folsom Street.
US Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento
District History (1993)
Although built as part of the 1915
Pan-Pacific Internation Exposition, prior to 1925, the Palace
of Fine Arts was part of the military reservation of the Presidio
of San Francisco. By Act of Congress on March 3, 1925 the Palace
of Fine Arts building was conveyed to the City and County of
San Francisco for educational, art, exposition, and park purposes.
On August 8, 1941, the War Department repossessed the facility
from the City and County for use as a Medical Storage Depot.
The authority for this action was established by an Ordinance
which contained a provision granting the Army the right to take
possession of the Palace of Fine Arts in the event of war or
any national emergency.
The site consists of approximately 9.3 acres of land, of which
the Palace of Fine Arts occupies 7.85 acres. The site was used
by the San Francisco Port of Embarkation for the storage of medical
supplies and a vehicle motor pool until May 15, 1947. The Army
did not make any improvements to the site during its possession.
A description of War Department use of the site is inclosed as
the chronology below.
The Army released the Palace of Fine Arts building on May 16,
1947 to the City and County of San Francisco. On October 5, 1950,
the site was deeded back to the City and County by Quitclaim
deed. The Army retained rights of ingress and egress across the
property for use as a spur track railroad. The Army is also granted
use of the main building for Army National Guard purposes.
US Army Corps of Engineers Chronology
3 March 1925:
Act of Congress authorizing the Secretary of War to convey certain
portions of Presidio of SF for educational, art,
exposition, and park purposes. The right-of-way for spur railroad
from Fort Mason to the Presidio is to be maintained by the Secretary.
June 3, 1927: Ordinance. That portion of the Presidio
of San Francisco that contains the Palace of Fine Arts is granted
and conveyed to the City and County of San Francisco by the Acting
Secretary of War. The US maintains the right to maintain and
operate a spur track railroad over the public streets. Also,
in event of war or other national emergency, the United States
can repossess the property.
December 20, 1940: Letter regarding the increase of storage
space needed near the San Francisco Port of Embarkation (from
the Commander to the Commanding General, Ninth Corps Area, Presidio
of San Francisco). This storage is needed immediately in the
Palace of Fine Arts for the Medical Section of the San Francisco
January 4, 1941:
Letter regarding the dire need of additional storage space by
the War Department and the aquisition of the Palace of Fine Arts
for this purpose. From Headquarters, Presidio of San Francisco
to the Quartermaster General, U.S. Army.
February 19, 1941: Letter. The Army takes possession of
9.93 acres of land, formerly comprising a portion of the Presidio,
on which the Palace of Fine Arts is located.
February 21, 1941: Letter notifing the Commanding General
Ninth Corps Area that the Acting Secretary of War has approved
repossession of the Palace of Fine Arts for the use of Medical
Section, San Francisco General Depot.
August 8, 1941: Letter to the City and County of San Francisco
stating that the United States is taking exclusive possession
of the Presidio of San Francisco containing the Palace of Fine
Arts. Only the Palace of Fine Arts building (approx 7.85 acres)
is required for military purposes. The City and County retain
Jurisdiction over the remainder of the area (about 2 acres).
March 6, 1947: Letter recommending that the Secretary
of War determine that the Palace of Fine Arts is no longer needed
for military purposes.
March 19, 1947: Letter. The Palace of Fine Arts can be
released by 16 May 1947. The building is used for storage of
Port of Embarkation Motor Pool vehicles and for storage of American
Red Cross supplies.
May 15, 1947: Warning Notice. The Palace of Fine Arts
is placed in the surplus category. The land was used by Port
of Embarkation for storage and a motor pool. The land was deeded
to the City and County of San Francisco in exchange for right-of-way
for spur track railroad. Original tract was 9.93 acres, only
2 acres used by the War Department. (The acreage amounts are
probably wrong here. The map dated February 2, 1945 says that
7.85 acres were used.)
August 21, 1947: Letter to the City and County of San
Francisco. The remainder of the land and improvements at the
Palace of Fine Arts (about 7.93 acres) is no longer required
by the Army and is being returned. With the exception of the
rights of ingress and egress.
July 21, 1949: Public Law 181, An Act. Authorizes the
Secretary of the Army to convey certain lands to the City and
County of San Francisco. Conveyed provided that the City and
County give the United States perpetual rights of ingress and
egress for the spur track railroad and permit the use of the
main building for National Guard purposes.
October 5, 1950: Quitclaim Deed. The Secretary of the
Army conveys the land to the City and County of SF as per Public
Law 181 above.
Corps of Engineers Real Estate Map
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