In the second half of 2017, the California Historical Society and the City of San Francisco initiated Phase I of the Community Outreach effort for the Old U.S. Mint Restoration Project. Facilitated by public historians from Shaping SF, the goal was to gather input from hundreds of engaged citizens regarding the future use of the Old U.S. Mint.
Key take-aways from the Phase I Community Outreach were:
- Discussion of a “community cultural commons” concept, a shared space for history and culture.
- Wide consensus about the potential of the Old U.S. Mint to become an extraordinary home to the California Historical Society.
- Broad enthusiasm for the Mint to become a destination landmark that provides a unique portal to widening rings of history—from neighborhood to City to State—and one that becomes a lively center of participatory history making.
- Input on CHS’s specific programming and activities; that CHS programs should remain broad and wide-ranging.
- Many participants shared hopes and expectations that CHS and the City can and will develop an important new cultural institution for San Franciscans and visitors alike.
- Excitement was expressed about possible uses for the Mint in the context of the CHS/City partnership. An overwhelming desire for something “unique” was expressed by many participants, for example:
- A place that invites in the public, that makes the public the agent of historical creation and documentation, and is affordable or free.
- A facility that provides resources, skills, training, storage, performance space, meeting space, and is friendly, clear and accessible to all.
- A place that allows both locals and visitors, adults and kids, to engage in a self-guided process of immersive discovery, that unlocks their earliest efforts to know the world through “snooping” and inquisitiveness, that doesn’t lock things away but invites a hands-on experience.
- A place to connect to the building’s own special history – its use, historical functions and extraordinary construction.
Development of a full rehabilitation plan for the Old U.S. Mint is underway. The current planning and due diligence phase is anticipated to run through 2019 and will result in a full restoration and reuse proposal for the Old Mint.