Pacific Heritage Museum
Backstory and Context
The Pacific Heritage Museum of San Francisco was established in 1984 by the former Bank of Canton of California, now United Commercial Bank, as a public service for the citizens and visitors of San Francisco. The museum is housed in the historic US Subtreasury Building, dating from 1875 and built on the site of the original US Branch Mint. The mint, which outgrew its Commercial Street location during the height of the California gold rush era, moved to a new and larger location in 1874. The US Subtreasury used the old mint structure for a year, after which it was demolished and replaced with a four-story brick building designed by treasury architect William Appleton Potter. While the building was one of the few to have withstood the earthquake of 1906, it was entirely gutted by the ensuing fire and reconstructed as the single story building which presently occupies the site.
The building has been carefully preserved and restored as a free-standing structure integrated into the Bank's overall building design. Recognized as a California State Historical Landmark in 1949 and as a San Francisco city landmark in 1970, the restored building now houses a historical exhibit documenting the history and significance of the Branch Mint and Subtreasury buildings over time. This exhibit, located in a cut-away section through the original building depicting its unique construction techniques, includes architectural plans, photographs, coins and other artifacts pertinent to the role of the site in the early development of San Francisco.
The Pacific Heritage Museum displays on a rotating basis selected exhibitions based on the broad theme of the artistic, cultural and economic achievements of the peoples of the Pacific Rim. In addition to organizing its own exhibitions, the Museum also presents exhibitions with museums elsewhere in the United States and other countries.