A focus on architectural practices affords an important perspective on Spanish-colonial ethnogenesis in California because architecture is a technology that gives physical presence to the organization of social life. The nucleus of each presidio was its main quadrangle, the administrative and residential center of the settlement. The architecture of the main quadrangle can be understood as a hybrid expression of conflicting ideals: the regulatory visions of military planners, the architectural habits and aspirations of the settlers, the labor of the settlers and Native Americans, and the local environment. At the Presidio of San Francisco, three trends shaped the quadrangle’s architectural history: homogenization, centralization, and expansion. The architectural changes were largely aesthetic and signified a heightened concern with ethnic respectability and gendered ideologies of honor and shame. These changes in Presidio architecture also increasingly differentiated the military settlers from Native Californians.
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