By Carlos Lazo
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Even though the building is less than three months old, its site is full of history.
The new general instruction building at Presidio of Monterey in Monterey was completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District in March 2012. It is the second of three general construction buildings the Sacramento District is working on for the post and the Defense Language Institute.
Construction began in December 2009, and although the building is currently receiving finishing touches, DLI is already using some of the classrooms for military personnel.
But the same site where military personnel will be learning to say "shukran" (thank you, in Arabic) in 2012, soldiers were using for a very different purpose around 1912.
Because the site of the building included a half-mile zone designated as a Presidio of Monterey historic district, archaeologists were required to be onsite during construction in case any artifacts were unearthed.
"Some artifacts were found," said Stephen Scholten, senior project engineer with the Sacramento District. The artifacts were part of two sites, discovered July 25 and 26, 2011 during water-line trenching for the building. Both sites were actually just outside the designated historic district.
"A cache of horseshoes," said Scholten, "from when the (U.S. Army) cavalry was in Monterey."
According to the installation's archaeological office, the cache dates from between 1903 and 1912, when four or five cavalry units were stationed at the Presidio of Monterey. Presidio was home to the 9th Cavalry during this time, famously known as the Buffalo Soldiers, who arrived in 1902. The archaeological office believes the site was home to a previously unknown blacksmith associated with one of the cavalry units. Nearly 200 horseshoes were part of the discovery along with hundreds of other horse-related items including harnesses, horseshoe nails and personal effects like boots and clothing.
After all of the artifacts were recovered, construction continued on the building.
Now, the approximately 47,000-square-foot building will provide DLI with 40 new classrooms. Although originally designed for about 34 classrooms, every room in the building includes electrical and internet connections and can be repurposed in the future to serve as a classroom. Since moving in, staff has repurposed six additional rooms into classrooms.
Along with the classrooms, the building adds faculty offices, testing rooms and cultural rooms. The cultural rooms will be used to highlight and house various items associated with languages taught, including clothing and art.
As students increase their knowledge, they'll do so in a building with less of an impact on the installation's energy use, too. The building will be the first LEED-certified project completed by the Sacramento District at the Presidio. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, measures green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.