Photo: Eric Fischer/Flickr
The holiday season is already looking happy for San Francisco’s 1874 Old US Mint. Last week, the California government awarded the California Historical Society and City and County of San Francisco a $1-million grant to help restore and renovate the building.
Project specifics have yet to be divulged, but the plan is for the building to become the California Historical Society’s new headquarters once all work has been completed. Other local cultural groups and non-profit organizations may share the space.
In a press release issued by San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Mayor Ed Lee praised the building for “represent[ing] an important piece of San Francisco’s rich history.” He added, “[t]his grant provides critical funding that will bring us closer to restoring this iconic landmark into a center culture and learning for all San Franciscans and visitors to our great city.”
The Old Mint does indeed have an interesting past. Built in 1874 at 88 5th Street to serve the gold mines of the California Gold Rush, it was one of the area’s official gold repositories. In its first year of business alone, gold bullion was exchanged for an incredible $4 million.
Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961, the Old Mint was one of the few downtown San Francisco buildings that remained intact after the 1906 earthquake. The photo above shows the utter destruction surrounding the area, while the Old Mint looks pristine. One hundred years after the earthquake, the US Mint released a special $5 gold coin commemorating the building’s survival.
More recently, in 2003, the City of San Francisco acquired the Old Mint from the federal government after concerns about its costly renovations were raised. Thirteen years later, city representatives have officially made good on raising those funds.