This week is the kickoff of the 19th Satchmo SummerFest, headquartered at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint.
Though it is now a museum dedicated to the history of New Orleans music, from 1838 until 1909 workers at the building produced coins as a branch of the U.S. Mint. Currency made here bears the mint mark “O” on the reverse.
The Greek Revival-style building was designed by architect William Strickland, who also designed the Philadelphia Mint and two other U.S. Mint facilities — in Charlotte, North Carolina and Dahlonega, Georgia — that opened the same time as the one here.
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The first coins were struck at the New Orleans Mint on May 7, 1838. In 1861, when Louisiana seceded from the Union at the start of the Civil War, the Mint began issuing Confederate coins, making it the only facility to issue both American and Confederate currency.
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It returned to production for the U.S. government in 1879 and produced silver coins for the next 30 years. After it closed, the Mint became an office for the U.S. Treasury, then a Coast Guard storage facility and even a Cold War fallout shelter. It became a branch of the Louisiana State Museum in 1981. An exhibit inside details its coin-producing history. The rest of the building features permanent and changing exhibitions about New Orleans music.