Last month at the Old Mint on Fifth and Mission streets, guests gathered in support this 1870’s-era building and its historic marble halls.
Billed as, Sip Some Wine & Walk Through Time the reception was also a benefit for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“The Mint is included on our list of the 11 Most Endangered Places,” explained Anthea Hartig, Western Region Director for the Trust. “We want to spread the word and engage people about the need to preserve our cultural heritage.”
Locally, that heritage has included the Trust’s successful refurbishment of such treasures as the Angel Island Immigration Station and the C.A. Thayer Schooner at Aquatic Park. But much work, and many projects, remain.
The event was co-chaired by National Trust Trustees Carol Bonnie, Jennifer Emerson and author Linda Bruckheimer, who knows a thing, or two, about preservation: she saved the entire town of Bloomfield from over-development in her home state of Kentucky.
Having lived much of her adult life in Los Angeles with her husband, Jerry Bruckheimer (the super-successful director and producer of such films as Pirates of the Caribbean and developer of all those cities watched over by CSI), she eventually felt a tug to return to her roots.
“The Bloomfield project started like many of these projects do, with a love of preservation,” explained Linda Bruckheimer. “First we purchased and refurbished a home there. After noticing that many of the buildings in the village were becoming derelict, one building turned into a few more. And then, much of the town.”
That’s exactly the kind of support needed for the city’s Mint building, the Greek-Revival beauty fondly known by locals as The Granite Lady.
And as sometimes happens in a lady’s quest for an uplift, there have been construction delays and development cost increases.
“We hope to be shovel-ready in 2012 and re-opening the Mint in 2013,” said SF Museum & Historical Society Executive Director Erik Christoffersen.
Those plans include a 40,000-square-foot museum which will include a visitor center, exhibition halls, research, library and administrative offices and, hopefully, a cafe.
“What’s important about tonight is for people to see and experience this building as a living space,” Christoffersen continued. “Our plans are to transform this building from its origins as a fortress and open it up as a facility and place of learning for the public.”
Art Ferretti, the Mint’s Facilities Manager, couldn’t agree more.
“This building is a piece of history,” said Ferretti, as he welcomed party guests into the Mint like a proud father. “I love having people in here tonight, it really brings the old building to life.”
An EssEff native, Ferretti believes passionately that the Mint Project is a great project for San Francisco.
“Tonight is really important for people to experience the potential of the building. It’s a great space for events and it will be great museum,” enthused Ferretti. “The Mint is a magical place.”