The main entrance on Fifth Street features a classical portico framed by Doric, sandstone columns, and is reached by granite stairs that rise 12 feet up from street-level.
The foundation was constructed of concrete and granite, and was built 5-feet thick to prevent thieves from tunneling into the building.
Aware that San Francisco was at risk from earthquakes and ensuing fires; Alfred B. Mullett designed the Mint to "float" on its foundation during tremors, planted the building as far away from other structures as possible, and used fire-resistant materials in the structure and facade.
From 1937 to 1957, the building remained under control of the Department of Treasury and housed various governmental offices, including the Geodetic Survey and the Bureau of Mines.
The Mint survived the massive 1906 San Francisco earthquake virtually undamaged. Using only seventy feet of one-inch hose, employees and soldiers pumped water from the Mint's artesian well and saved the building from two waves of fires that left every other structure in the area gutted.
The building served as the Mint from 1874 to 1937, when operations were moved to the new and larger San Francisco Mint.
Following restoration work in the year previous, the building re-opened in 1973 and housed the Old Mint Museum in the eastern half until 1994.
Alfred B. Mullett was so confident in the strength and resilience of the building, that prior to its completion he said, "I am willing to risk my professional reputation upon its stability if properly carried out according to my plans".
At the end of 1995, the building became property of the General Services Administration, and in 2003 the building was turned over to the City of San Francisco, which plans to restore the building and turn it into a world-class museum.
By 1880, the Mint was producing 60 percent of the U.S. gold and silver coins, and by 1934, it housed one third of the U.S. Gold Reserves.
In 1906, the Mint had as much as $300 Million ($6 Billion in 2006 dollars) in gold stored in its vaults, which is the main reason so much effort went into keeping the building safe from the post-earthquake fires.
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