SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An historic San Francisco landmark received a major infusion of money Tuesday that city officials hope will lead to a major renovation.

The old U.S. Mint in San Francisco.s South of Market neighborhood has weathered more than 140 years of neglect.

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The California Office of Economic and Workforce Development awarded a $1 million grant to the California Historical Society and San Francisco to study building to determine how to restore and preserve the old granite structure.

“Back when it was an active mint, it held a third of the entire United States Treasury! Right here!” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

Closed to the public for years, KPIX 5 cameras got a rare look deep underground under the building where the main gold vaults still stand today. Gold and silver from the California gold rush once poured in to be stacked and guarded by federal troops.

“Everything about this building is monumental. It was meant to be both a foundry and a bank,” said Dr. Anthea Hartig, the Executive Director and CEO of California Historical Society. “It was meant to dominate and intimidate.”

The building has long ago started to fall apart, but many say it only suffers from superficial issues. After all, it did withstand some major events

“It withstood the great earthquake of 1906 and fire,” said Lee.

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The grant money will be used to examine the building in detail.

The grant was obtained with the help of state Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblyman Phil Ting.

Leno, D-San Francisco, noted that while the Old Mint is in San Francisco, it is a statewide and national resource.

“The Old Mint is a true landmark that reflects California’s glorious past while envisioning its brilliant future,” Leno said.

Ting reflected that many people had not understood when former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown spent millions to renovate City Hall, but “people from around the world come to see it now.”

“There are so many people, not just in San Francisco, that are really proud of that building,” Ting said.

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