Old Mint

Old Mint Project

Project Overview

The United States Old Mint was designed by Alfred B. Mullet, Supervising Architect for the U.S. Treasury Department and opened in 1874. One of the official repositories for the United States’ gold reserves, the building held one-third of the nation’s supply of gold in 1934. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961 – the highest level of recognition given by the federal government to historic places. The Mint was placed on the local register (Landmark #236, Appendix A to Article 10 of the Planning Code) in 2003 based on its association with economic and governmental history of San Francisco and the nation. Because of its historical significance, the City is required to comply with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and the Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings on any alteration or rehabilitation of the Mint. The building features 100,000 square feet (approximately 75,000 are useable) on three floors.

OEWD announced a long term partnership with the California Historical Society (CHS) who was selected through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the Old Mint Restoration Project –. The project is led by OEWD to renovate the 140-year old structure and restore it as a publicly-accessible cultural facility.  In collaboration with CHS, the City will develop a comprehensive reuse proposal for the City-owned National Historic Landmark building located at 88 Fifth Street.  In the short term, the OEWD is also working to bring a range of positive uses and activation to the building, as well as ensure the Mint’s maintenance and security until the long-term restoration project can begin.

Old Mint Restoration Project

  • 100,000 square feet
  • approximately 75,000 are useable on three floors
  • renovate the 140-year old structure
  • publicly-accessible cultural facility


Designed by Alfred B. Mullet, and constructed between 1869 and 1874, the Old Mint is listed on local, state, and federal historic registers.  The building survived the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, and played a pivotal role in helping to sustain the local economy after the disaster.  Minting activities were transferred to a new building across town in 1937, after which time the building housed various federal government agencies and functions until the early 1990s.  In addition, the Old Mint Museum operated in the building from 1972 to 1993.  Eventually, deficits and the prospect of costly building upgrades threatened to close the Mint’s doors forever.

Recognizing the importance of the building’s history, architecture, and location, the City acquired the Old Mint from the federal government in 2003.  A subsequent robust community dialogue, involving the City and various stakeholders, produced the vision of the Old Mint as a special public place – one in which communities near and far come to enjoy culture and the arts, and to experience the building’s unique history.

Next Steps

Working with its official project partner, CHS, and with guidance from relevant City Agencies and Departments, OEWD will complete a number of technical assessments – both on the building and on the proposed set of uses – that will be needed to better understand project specifics, costs, and viability.  The City hopes to produce a full rehabilitation and reuse proposal for the building in 2017.

Interim Use

OEWD recently announced a partnership for the near-term activation of the Mint.  The agreement with local firm Activate SF will bring a range of positive uses to the building, as well as ensure the Mint’s maintenance and security until the long-term restoration project can begin.  Through the City’s partnership with Activate SF, the Mint will host neighborhood gatherings, special events, third-party rentals, and cultural programming.  A portion of the proceeds from event rentals will support the ongoing community/non-profit use of the space, as well as help the City address deferred maintenance projects at the Mint. 

Recent events in the building have include Nike+ The Mint, during Super Bowl 50 week, as well as a Community Open House weekend that featured San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint.