What’s past is prologue: If the Old Mint is stands as a testament to our future, it is one with a resilient and enduring spirit. It was commissioned by Congress in 1852 to accommodate the needs of a growing gold rush economy, and it swiftly became the most active mint in the United States. In 1877, more than $50 million in coins were produced in its belly, and by the mid-1930s it stored one-third of the nation’s gold reserves. Though dubbed the Granite Lady, the bulk of the Old Mint’s 102,000-square-foot expanse was made from sandstone. The granite came from the Griffith Quarry in Placer County, and it aligns the basement walls and foundation. It was this design that thwarted the ensuing twin disasters — earthquake and fire — that laid siege to the city in 1906. As the only operational financial institution open for business after the quake, it became the depository and treasury for the city’s relief funds. The building was designated a national historic landmark in 1961 and listed on the national register of historic places nearly two decades later. It was purchased by the city from the federal government in 2003 with a borrowed silver dollar minted at the building nearly 124 years prior. Tonight, join docent and former Stanford professor of architecture Paul V. Turner for The Old Mint as an Architectural Treasure. The tour is part of a monthly series anticipating the building’s opening later this year as the city’s first museum dedicated to the preservation of San Francisco’s legacy.
Tue., Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m., 2012