The Stadium Seminary National Historic District is located in North Tacoma where trees line the streets, and high-style residential homes have stunning views of Puget Sound. This area housed early lumber barons and railroad executives, as well as the owner of Tacoma Smelter and Refining Company, William Ross Rust. The Rust mansion is situated on a bill included in Tacoma’s North Slope Historic District and is a historic landmark in the community. Most homes included in this district are middle class Victorian, Colonial Revival, Foursquare, and Craftsman style. Located at 1001 North I Street, this spectacular home is easily identifiable and hard to miss. This example of a three-story neoclassical house is neither middle class nor ordinary. In fact, it is quite extraordinary.
Constructed from Wilkeson sandstone from the local quarries the house is dominated in the front by a monumental Roman Doric portico. The roof is composed of green ceramic tiles. While the house appears rectangle, it is actually “L” shaped. The perimeter of the home is decorated by a two- story portico, veranda, and full entablature. The house embodies the distinctive characteristics of its type in the city. The driveway is under the porte cochere and is at the basement level. The driveway and stairs are both constructed of sandstone. Inside the basement is the ballroom, billiard room, and entertainment room. The main floor inside the house is a variety of rich classical decorations. Each room has a unique fireplace design, ceiling ornament, and door treatment. Wood paneling is dominating but in some areas the original green tapestry is visible. The most distinct feature on this floor is the fireplace in the reception hall. The second floor contains two separate wings. The East wing holds guest bedrooms and bathrooms, while the West wing holds bedrooms and bathrooms for the family. The third floor originally held the servant’s sitting rooms and bedrooms. At one point in its history, the home was converted into apartments, but the current owners returned it to a single-family dwelling.
What is the historical significance associated with this home? Industrialist William Ross Rust came to Tacoma from Colorado with hopes of bringing his refining and smelting skills to the area. He purchased Tacoma Smelter and Refining Company, and after a year of rebuilding, he began smelting lead and later refining copper. Rust sold the company in 1905 for 5.5 million dollars, which was ample funds to construct a dream home for his wife Helen and sons Howard and Henry. The family lived here until 1911, the year Howard died at the young age of twenty-four from a ruptured heart. Helen Rust refused to re-enter the home stating it was too closely associated with the death of her son.
The current homeowners have been there since the 1980s and originally planned to restore this once majestic mansion. However, years of aging, weather, and even an annoying woodpecker or two, have left behind peeling paint and visible signs of decay. The home is well kept and remains in good condition but how many more years of life does Rust mansion hold? It’s already passed its one hundredth birthday and sadly; it shows.
Enjoy this beautiful home before it’s gone, but please remember although it’s a historic landmark, and registered on both state and national registries, this home is privately owned. It's okay to admire the beauty, but it’s also important to respect the privacy of the current homeowners. That being said, let’s discover this Tacoma treasure known as the Rust Mansion.