Return of Old Mint building in SoMa delayed beyond 2012 

The grand reopening of the Old Mint building in SoMa will have to wait at least a few years longer than the initial 2012 goal.

The stone, iron and concrete edifice at Fifth and Mission streets, which in the late 1870s secured one-third of the nation’s gold, will continue to remain vacant indefinitely after plans to raise $95 million over the past three years to reinvent it as a Bay Area history museum were stalled by a rough economy.

Click the picture to see a gallery of the "Granite Lady."

Now organizers at the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, which has leased the building from The City, are saying they plan to launch a second fundraising campaign later in the year.

Society Chief Financial Officer Kurt Nystrom said that this time, a phased approach may be more realistic and less intimidating. Instead of trying to reopen the entire building, the society is planning to restore the vaults on the ground level and second floor first. Then they will work on securing funds for the third and fourth floors.

“On a nominal basis, if we were funded tomorrow we could open the first major part of the building in probably under three years,” Nystrom said.

Built in 1874, the classical structure stood firm during the 1906 earthquake and fires while the neighborhood around it burned and crumbled. Nicknamed the “Granite Lady,” it is recognized as historic both locally and at the state and national levels.

The ceilings are high and the rooms extravagant, providing a quiet oasis in the middle of the daily downtown noises with chandeliers painted gold to replicate the original flakes that covered them.

The venue is still rented out for posh parties such as a holiday event for rock band Metallica, said Jason Macario, who led a tour of it Wednesday.

“It dresses up really well,”  Macario said.

And for the first time since the campaign launched, the society plans to offer tours for members of the public if they ask.

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Kamala Kelkar

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Saturday, Oct 22, 2016


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