The Miners Foundry has been forging the future since 1859. From its humble beginnings as a machine shop during the Gold Rush to its current incarnation as a premier cultural center in Northern California, the Foundry has hosted everything and everyone from town hall meetings and weddings to international musicians, opera singers, dancers and artisans in their beautiful Stone and Great halls.
On September 27, history comes alive when the Foundry will host a free all-day event for locals and visitors to learn more about the history of the Foundry; its significant role played in the area’s success during the Gold Rush all the way up to its modern day function as the center for arts, culture, and community in Nevada City.
“Everyone is very excited to be celebrating this historic moment,” said Gretchen Bond, Executive Director, “There are not many buildings which can lay claim to such a diverse past and present. We are thrilled to be celebrating our history with the community!”
Located on Spring Street next to the Nevada City Winery, the Foundry has undergone several incarnations, beginning as a cavernous building where heavy machinery and equipment were produced for the gold mines in the area. The Pelton wheel – a practical, water-driven power generator that revolutionized gold mining and the creation of electrical power by using water under pressure and led to the formation of Pacific Gas & Electric Company - was first manufactured in the Foundry.
Later, during the ‘30s and 40s the Foundry was used for steel fabrication, manufacturing supplies for General Electric, gateballs for Boulder Dam, parts for Liberty ships and other wartime items. In 1973, David Osborn and Charles Woods turned the Foundry into the American Victorian Museum and housed Victorian artifacts and antiques. With the vision of Osborn and Woods, and countless supporters and volunteers, the Foundry made the remarkable transformation from industry to art. They were the first to open it for the performing arts, giving birth to KVMR radio, and Foothill Theatre Company. By continuing to support the arts, the Foundry has nurtured the Performance Art Guild (PAG), Community Players, and most recently the 13 Band, Greenhouse School of Music and Sierra Stages. As a vibrant community cultural center, there is and has been something for everyone at the Foundry.
Don’t forget to bring the kids! There will be games, interactive displays, a working stamp mill and more for them to learn hands on about the history of where they are growing up. Enjoy hot Cornish pasties and cold ice cream, plus live entertainment from the Humbugs and the Cornish Choir. Join in by adding something to the time capsule which will be buried later this year during the gala celebration.
For 150 years the Miners Foundry has been an integral part of daily life in Nevada City and a testament to recycling our historic buildings for present day use. Its hosted high school proms, weddings, film festivals, community gatherings, renowned speakers and artists, and much more, but most importantly as a still operating living and breathing historical building, it is a direct link to the past for the community.