The Old U.S. Mint holds the distinct title of being the only mint to produce American and Confederate coinage. A product of Andrew Jackson’s “Bank War” and westward expansion, the mint was built in 1835 and constructed on the site of Fort St. Charles. It was designed by William Strickland of Philadelphia, who also designed the Second Bank of the U.S., the Philadelphia Mint, and the Tennessee State Capitol. The simplified, classical style of the building is reflective of Strickland’s preferences and the Greek Revival era. Despite designing the building, Strickland did not oversee construction and never visited the site. Unfortunately, he did not take into account the soft soil of New Orleans in his design, forcing the mint to undergo numerous repairs.
Minting began in 1838 and continued until Louisiana seceded from the Union in 1861. Afterwards, the mint was transferred to the Confederacy and used to mint Confederate coinage and house troops. This did not last very long, however, as New Orleans was occupied by federal forces early in the war. After the Civil War, the mint resumed full operations by 1879 and was the only southern mint to reopen after the war. In 1909, minting ceased and the building was used for a number of official purposes until it was transferred to the state in 1966. In 1981, the mint opened to the public as a State museum site.
The Old U.S. Mint is currently the location of the Louisiana Historical Center, The New Orleans Jazz Club Collections of the Louisiana State Museum and the New Orleans Mint Performing Arts Center. The Louisiana State Museum now links its ongoing collections audio digitization work-flow with that of the new Mint studio, including the digitization of the Louisiana State Museum’s internationally recognized Jazz Collection. Information on this effort can be found at Music at the Mint’s own website, and information about concerts it hosts can be found there and on the Museum Programs webpage.