Tacoma was founded in the mid-1880s, and while the landscape and look of the city has changed over centuries, many of its founding structures are still standing today. Through meticulous restoration, structures of year’s past have been brought back to life, serving as both a nod to the past and the future.
The 22nd annual Historic Homes of Tacoma Tour will provide house hoppers and historians alike with a behind-the-scenes look at six historic home, the Central Lutheran Church, and will culminate with a look at one of Tacoma’s most beautiful homes — the Rust Mansion in the heart of the Stadium-Seminary District of Tacoma.
William Ross Rust, owner of the Tacoma Smelter and Refining Co. and City of Ruston’s namesake, had the majestic estate built in 1913 following the death of his oldest son. Out of the extreme sorrow of the death of their son, Rust’s wife, Helen, refused to live in their former mansion. Wanting a fresh start, the couple built the mansion of their dreams.
The 19,000-square-foot gated estate not only includes sculpted landscaping but gorgeous brickwork, ornate ceilings, stained glass windows, sunroof and a breathtaking central staircase. The less-than-modest cabin for the ultra rich also includes a dance hall, pool and its own movie theater. A walk through the Mission Revival home and the fountain-and-statued estate is like a stroll through F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.”
And actually, it’s for sale — if you have a $2 million. But don’t expect to see “For Sale” signs marking the perimeter of the estate. Those who can afford it know it’s for sale. Curb appeal is not an issue.
“It’s like a museum piece,” said Home Tour Chairman Marie Hayden.
The tour, which serves as the Tacoma Historical Society’s landmark fundraising event, helps support the downtown museum and its operations. The tours require an army of about 200 volunteers each year. Prospective volunteers for this and other events can contact the Tacoma Historical Society for information.
Tours run from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p. m. on April 30 and from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on May 1, with the Central Lutheran Church, located at 409 N Tacoma Ave. serving as a reception area. Tickets are $25 each and may be purchased at the Tacoma Historical Museum, located at 919 Pacific Ave., or the Reception Center.
Ticket holders may take the tour in any order they want. The booklet is the ticket and will be checked off at the door — so take note that you can only visit each structure once. Tickets may also be used either day, so viewers don’t have to see all of the homes in a single afternoon. Although the homes are within an easy walking distance of each other, the homes themselves have stairs that are not equipped for people who have difficulty walking.
Advanced tickets are available at the museum, the Pacific Northwest Shop, Stadium Thriftway and select Columbia Bank branches. More information is available at http://www.tacomahistory.org or by calling 253-472-3738.
If you don’t get your fill of local history during the tour, continue exploring the Tacoma’s many historic neighborhoods for a further glimpse into the Gritty City’s past. You don’t need a map to discover these not-so-hidden gems. From Tacoma’s historic K Street to the area’s beautiful North Slope, pick a sunny day and just start walking. Countless neighborhoods across the city boast fixtures of Tacoma’s past, as evidenced in the beautiful, old architecture that can be spotted here and there. For more information about the city’s historic neighborhoods and how to find them, visit Historic Tacoma’s website.