Presidio of Monterey

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A organizational summary by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.


The Presidio of Monterey, located in Monterey, California, is an active U.S. Army installation with historic ties to the Spanish colonial era. Currently, it is the home of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and is the last and only Presidio in California to have an active military presence. The primary mission of the Presidio is education on foreign languages.

History in the Central Coast of California

Hispanic Era

The Monterey Bay was colonized by a small Spanish expedition that reach Monterey Bay in 1770. Captain Don Gaspar de Portola commanded the military component of the expedition and established a presidio (fort) and mission at the southern end of Monterey Bay on June 3, 1770 [1]. The Monterey presidio was one of four presidios and 21 missions established in California.

U.S. - Mexico War

Commodore John Drake Sloat seized Monterey in July 1846 during the Mexican War. He claimed the Monterey territory and the Presidio for the United States. He left a small garrison of Marines to improve defenses which were renamed Fort Mervine. The original Presidio went through many name changes including Fort Halleck, Fort Savannah, and the Monterey Redoubt. In 1852 it was renamed again as the Monterey Ordnance Depot and used as a military storehouse until 1856. The fort was abandoned from 1856 to the end of the Civil War. The government had the fort on "reserve" for possible future use of its 140-acre military reservation [2].

Early 20th Century

In 1902 near the end of the Philippine War, the Army needed additional forts on the West Coast. The Army "discovered" that they already owned a large area in Monterey and in September of 1902 they began building a cantonment area on the Monterey Military Reserve. On July 1903, the Reserve was renamed the Ord Barracks only to have its name changed again a year later to the Presidio of Monterey in honor of the original Spanish fort. It housed various infantry regiments including the 15th, 20th, and 12th Infantry between 1902 and 1917. In 1917, the U.S. War Department purchased a nearby parcel of 15,609 acres of land called the Gigling Reservation to use as training areas for the Presidio of Monterey. The Presidio was declared inactive in 1944, but was immediately reopened the following year and served as a Civil Affairs Staging and Holding Area for civil affairs soldiers preparing to occupy Japan.

Defense Language Institute

In 1946, the Military Intelligence Service Language School was moved to the Presidio and renamed the Army Language School. In June 1963, the school was renamed the Defense Language Institute, and in 1976 it became the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, the Defense Department's primary center for foreign language instruction.

Fort Ord

From 1946 onward, the Presidio was a sub-installation of the nearby Fort Ord until its closure in 1994. The Presidio then became its own installation [3].

Current Land Management


  1. History of the Presidio of Monterey. Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. [Cited March 2021]
  2. History of the Presidio of Monterey. Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. [Cited March 2021]
  3. Presidio of Monterey, California. [Cited March 2021]


This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessary reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.