TACOMA, Wash. — After a nine month, million-dollar makeover, Tacoma's most iconic private home, The Rust Mansion, is going on the market, listed at $4.8 million. Real estate developer Ashley Burks purchased the home in a private sale for $2.5 million in December 2021 and went to work restoring the "White House of the West."
"Initially when we started the project, there was a concern that I'm this young entrepreneur," Burks said. "What am I going to do with the interior of the home? Am I going to update it and modernize it? And we did the exact opposite."
Using a painting of the house as a guide, the single mom and entrepreneur oversaw a million dollar renovation that has brought the Rust Mansion back to its original glory.
"I'm pretty proud of myself," she said before crediting the rest of the team.
It's been a labor of love in more ways than one. Burks dedicated the project to the memory of her late husband Bryan Meade who died of a heart attack in 2017 at age 36.
"He had a saying, 'You can do anything you put your mind to. You just got to throw your energy behind it,'" Burks said.
It hasn't been easy. Though almost entirely cosmetic, the renovation had more than its share of challenges.
"A lot of this stuff was handmade," general contractor Sam Calebrese said. "It just wasn't something you could go to Home Depot and get off the shelf so that's been a challenge for sure".
Everything painted in gold leaf either needed to be replaced or treated with TLC and repainted. Often by Burks herself.
"I've been a business owner for well over a decade and so early on I had to learn to roll with the punches," Burks said.
The results speak for themselves. Walking through the nearly 11-thousand square foot home really does feel like stepping back in time.
The Rust Mansion was built for one of the richest men in the Northwest, smelter king William Rust, whose family moved into the 18 room house in 1906.
Burks says the dining room has become her favorite.
"If you look around the room there is more detail in the woodwork here than arguably anywhere in the home," she said.
There's also a secret button that unlatches a secret panel where families could store their secret stash of liquor during Prohibition.
"I always say that classic never goes out of style," said listing agent Michael Morrison of Sotheby's International Realty. Morrison admits he will need to carve out a couple of hours to show the mansion, which, of course, has its own ballroom.
"And it's complete with a stage and a piano where the band would play," Morrison added.
Burks had hoped to get the renovations finished by the Fourth of July, not Thanksgiving, but The Rust Mansion hasn't looked this picture perfect in a hundred years.
"Sometimes I'm in disbelief when I drive up, but we did it," Burks said. "It's a really great feeling."
If you'd like to get a private tour of The Rust Mansion, Burks has set up a raffle to benefit the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, which helps victims of domestic violence. The raffle has been extended through Dec. 1.