Tuesday, March 08, 2016
San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint
San Francisco History Days was held for free last weekend at the Old Mint building on 5th Street, with dozens of local organizations and neighborhood historical groups setting up displays and giving lectures.
The event was sponsored by the SF Mayor's Office after kicking out the previous stewards of the 1874 National Historic Landmark, the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, supposedly because they had not raised enough money towards the $60 million required for retrofitting and rehabbing.
The Old Mint stopped creating money in 1937 when the new Mint on Buchanan near Market Street opened. Visitors were allowed into the old building until 1993, and in 2003 the federal government sold the decaying building to the city of San Francisco for a silver dollar. Since then, a few rooms have been renovated but essentially the place has been neglected.
Last December, the Mayor's Office of Workforce and Economic Development tapped a group called Activate San Francisco Events, Inc. to take over the site with the $25,000 monthly rent waived in exchange for maintenance and upkeep.
Activate SF Events doesn't even have a website, so the handoff feels suspiciously like another insider crony deal out of Mayor Lee's office in an attempt to monetize more public facilities.
The basement, with its long hallways of steel vaults and thick brick walls, has still not been rehabbed, and the place felt like the spooky set for a Silence of the Lambs remake. There were some interesting looking set-ups in the small vaults, but claustrophobia got the better of us, so we fled into the rain.