|Tuesday, Aug 15, 2006|
Through 70 years of driving winter rains and salt-laden summer fogs, the Aquatic Park National Historic Landmark District has welcomed visitors to the San Francisco waterfront. However âtime and tidesâ have taken their toll, and on July 10th San Francisco Maritime National Historical Parkâs Maritime Museum, located in the districtâs ship-shaped bathhouse building, closed in preparation for a major, much-needed preservation effort.
A pair of construction projects will repair the four-story structureâs roof and windows and rehabilitate the districtâs reinforced concrete amphitheatre (the bleachers/underground complex flanking the bathhouse). The San Francisco Senior Center, which occupies a portion of the building, will remain open throughout the project.
The first project will replace the roofâs waterproof membranes and restore its historic ceramic tiles, replace stainless steel windows and doors, and conserve historic murals. The second project will include structural repair (of deteriorated concrete), and the rebuilding of six at-grade skylights.
The Streamline Moderne Bathhouse was part of a 1930s Works Progress Administration (WPA) project to create an aquatic-themed recreation complex. The WPA team of artists â including Hilaire Hiler, Sargent Johnson and Beniamino Bufano â designed an architectural homage to the ocean. Brilliantly colored interior murals teem with fanciful sea life, and carved green slate/tile work suggest a stroll along the ocean floor.
The Maritime Museum itself has been a San Francisco waterfront landmark since 1951. Exquisitely detailed ship models, anchors and figureheads set the scene. Exhibits explain sail and steam technology, tell stories about seafaring people, and illustrate how the maritime trades and culture shaped American (and world) history.
Although the museum is closed, the parkâs visitors (about four million annually) can still board the National Historic Landmark fleet at Hyde Street Pier, learn about West Coast maritime history in the visitor center, and visit the parkâs maritime library. For more information about San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, visit http://www.nps.gov/safr.