In the coming years, the majestic sandstone building that sits on Fifth and Mission streets may offer far more uses than a New Year’s Eve event.
For the third year running, New Bohemia will gather eclectic DJs and performers on multiple dance floors to drink in 2019 — all within the confines of the 148-year-old Old Mint, which once held a third of the country’s gold. But the weighty two-story structure is in the planning stages of a grand restoration project that could pose some changes to the New Year’s Eve event in the coming years.
The California Historical Society (CHS) and the city have teamed up to turn the historic landmark into a viable public space that houses a cultural center. A $1 million state grant made possible a series of community workshops often attended by history fanatics in 2017, from which a consensus developed that the building will likely become home to the CHS.
Participants also suggested the 78,000-square-foot space with a courtyard should host performances, trainings, and community meetings, and be accessible to all.
“A building like this will never be built again,” says Katherine Petrin, architectural historian and Old Mint restoration project manager, reciting her new motto. “It really deserves to have more life in it.”
The Old Mint — or Granite Lady, as it’s affectionately known — melted raw metals into coins from 1874 until 1937, when the “New Mint” opened at 155 Hermann St.
The former mint building served as federal offices until it was designated a national historic landmark in 1961, and survived a failed 1959 proposal that would have demolished the structure to build a plaza and pond with its salvaged front step columns. It operated as a money museum from 1973 to 1994, and the city bought the Old Mint in 2003 for a silver dollar made inside the building itself.
The current project’s timeline has shifted and Petrin now expects a plan ready for the Board of Supervisors to look at by the end of 2019 while the grant lasts until June. But the Old Mint’s continued use as a venue, New Year’s Eve parties and all, hasn’t been ruled out.
New Bohemia still has some time before the renovation materializes, but partygoers may notice the transformation of the venue into a public space beyond drinking inside a cocoon of history over the next few years.
But attendees can count on plans for this year that includes DJs Syd Gris, Alex Sibley, and Rooz mixed with performers like Nona Fender & the Benders, Grumpy Princess, and trapeze artists — all within the faded glory of the Old Mint’s granite and brick interior.
New Bohemia NYE at the Mint, Monday, Dec. 31, 9 p.m.-3:30 a.m., San Francisco Mint, 88 5th Street, $70-$95, newbohemianye.com
Read more from SF Weekly’s New Year’s Eve issue:
New Year’s Eve: A Carefully Controlled Explosion
‘The sky is our canvas, and fireworks are our paint,’ says Pyro Spectacular owner James Souza.
The Wisdom of TOKiMONSTA
The electronic musician who goes to great lengths to be present joins an incredible bill on New Year’s Eve at the Midway.