Porch Reconstruction

long wooden building with front porch
Fort Baker barracks building 602 in 1939.



Architectural Significance of the Porches

The wood-frame barracks at historic Fort Baker were constructed in 1902 to house over one hundred coastal defense soldiers. These buildings, built in the Colonial Revival style, were built from standard army plans, which included the porches as an elegant architectural element. In the 1950s, probably due to recurring maintenance problems, the army removed the historic porches. The removal of these two-story porches had a negative impact on the integrity and significance of the buildings and lessened their overall appearance.

Fort Baker barracks building before porch reconstruction
Building 602, as it stood for over 50 years, without its front porch. October 2006. 



Methodology behind the Porch Reconstruction

In December 2006, the National Park Service and the Fort Baker Retreat Group began the rehabilitation project to convert Fort Baker into Cavallo Point, the Lodge at Golden Gate. The rehabilitation plan called for the post’s barracks buildings to be converted into assembly, dining and office space.

The National Park Service does not traditionally add missing historic architectural elements back onto buildings unless there is sufficient historic documentation. But because the historic preservation professionals had the original 1905 building plans, as well as several historic photographs, the decision was made to re-construct new porches back onto the barracks buildings. New construction materials were used, so that in later years, future architects and historians would be able to tell the difference between the original 1905 porches and the newly added 2006 porches.

porch foundation work at Fort Baker barracks building
The porch foundation posts were secured in the ground with concrete. Toxic-free, pressure-treated lumber was used anywhere that wood came in contact with soil to prevent putting any more chemicals into the ground. Photo, June 2007.


Fort Baker new porches under construction
Once the foundation was set, the first level flooring was constructed and then the posts on the 1st and 2nd levels were constructed and braced. Photo, July 2007.


framing for the front porch entrance
Framing for the front porch entrance. Photo, August 2007.


carpenters installing floor decking on Fort Baker porch
Carpenters installed wooden decking material onto the floor joists. Photo October, 2007


newly constructed capitals at porch ceilings
The carpenters were able to re-create historically-accurate posts and capitals, based on the original historic building plans. Photo, October 2007.


contractors installing wooden veneer on to wooden posts
After the posts and capitals were constructed, the carpenters sanded the lumber and installed wooden veneer onto the posts. Notice the new porch trim underneath the first floor. Photo, November 2007.


the completed veneer on the porch
Once the wooden veneer work was completed, the new porches began to take shape and the barracks building started to look like its former historic self. Photo, November 2007.


new ADA ramp on the front porch
In keeping with good design practice and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the historic architects ensured that the new porches included an accessible ramp that lead up to the front door. Photo, November 2007. 


finished ADA ramp on front porch
The design of the finished ramp, with its new hand rails, provides direct front door access to all. Photo, May 2008.


photo of new pipe railing at new front porch
The black pipe railing was an architectural detail lifted directly from the historic standard building plans. The additional rows of thinner  cabling, however, were an added feature that ensured the porch was complaint with all safety codes. Photo, March 2008.


new entrance at Fort Baker porch
The new front entrance of the porch has wide front stairs with supporting hand rails on either side. The chosen paint colors - off-white porch with the dark gray foundation - is based on the 1930s historic color scheme. Photo, April 2008.


finished construction of new front porch
The finished porch, constructed with new materials, but built with the historic design. Photo, June 2009.



To learn more about other Golden Gate National Recreation Area preservation projects, please visit the Historic Preservation page.

Last updated: February 2, 2016

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