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From Our Editors
On April 18, 1906, the US economy could easily have been destroyed in one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the nation. A massive earthquake and subsequent fires ripped through the streets of San Francisco, leaving devastation in their wake. Though the downtown area and local banks were wiped out, the architect who had designed the Second San Francisco Mint—otherwise known as “The Old Mint” or “The Granite Lady"—knew that the Pacific coast was prone to earthquakes. He built the stately edifice to “float” on its foundations instead of shattering. Thanks to his foresight and the valiant efforts of Treasury Department employees who kept the fire at bay, The Old Mint was virtually unscathed and was the only San Francisco financial institution to stay open. The $200 million worth of gold in its vaults remained unharmed, and the country's economic welfare remained safe.
In January 2003, the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society's plan to renovate the unused Old Mint building and create a permanent home for the San Francisco Museum gained approval from the mayor's task force. Today, the society oversees its preservation, renovations, and ongoing activities; visitors can see temporary exhibits against an elegant backdrop of fluted columns, checkered floors, and vintage light fixtures. The society also educates people about Bay Area history through walking tours, monthly programs, and special events including a history expo, holiday tea, special exhibitions, and the Standing Ovations awards gala. It produces two members-only publications: “Panorama,” a quarterly newsletter, and the Argonaut, an original journal that tells the city's stories through items such as photographs, articles, and personal musings.