The San Francisco
Museum and Historical Society may be vacating the Old Mint this
summer at the City of San Francisco’s behest, but its president hopes
it won’t be a permanent move.
The dramatic arts production group that will use the Old Mint as a
theater venue beginning Sept. 1 (the historical society must vacate by
Aug. 1) will inhabit the facility on a short-term basis, according to
the termination letter from the city to the historical society, and
Kevin Pursglove, president of the historical society’s board of
directors, believes that a request-for-proposal will go out to seek
ideas for what tenant would come next.
Pursglove hopes it will be his organization. Again.
“We’ll be actively participating,” he said. “We’re pretty confident
that we can be very competitive in that process."
READ: San Francisco moving on from group's plan to
renovate Old Mint
The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society began occupying the
Old Mint in 2003, right after the U.S. Government Service
Administration sold the building to the city for $1. The historical
society planned to turn it into a San Francisco history museum, a part
of which would celebrate the history of American coins and the Gold Rush.
“We feel that we’re still in the ballgame and we can still be a key
player in the use of the Mint as museum,” Pursglove said.
Officials at the nonprofit are indeed disappointed to be leaving,
according to Pursglove, but were given notice that the termination was
a possibility and were not shocked by the city’s letter.
“We knew at some point we would have to regroup and re-strategize
about how we were going to get in to the next round of fundraising,”
LETTER: Read why San Francisco terminated its lease of the
Old Mint building
The president of the board does not see the historical society’s
renovation efforts up to now as being made in vain because they expect
another crack at a lease in a couple of years.
If that were not the case, and a more permanent tenant was being
sought or found, Pursglove said, "then we would really be second
guessing what our next steps would be."
Funds have been raised for the museum project through regular tours
of the building and area, private building rental (which has been
discontinued), a notable coin auction, and even a commemorative
The United States Mint struck 2006 gold and silver commemorative
coins for sale to collectors, who paid surcharges totaling nearly $5
million that went to The Mint Project, an effort at forming public
exhibits at the Old Mint.
Approximately $14 million had been raised by the historical society
as of May 2014. Pursglove said the goal is to up that total to around
Donald Kagin, professional numismatists and president of Kagin’s
Inc., has been a stalwart supporter of a money museum finding a home
at the Old Mint. And though he has served on the San Francisco Museum
and Historical Society’s board of directors, he was not on the whole
troubled by the news of the lease termination.
“Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world to bring in new ideas
and people to come up with ideas to renovate the building,” Kagin said.
The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society will continue to
operate even after it leaves the Old Mint this summer. Pursglove said
temporary office space is currently being sought, and donations are
still certainly welcome.
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