Those who frequent Ruston may have noticed a new face around North 51st and Winnifred Street. Located across the street from Don’s Market, the bronze bust of William Rust was installed and formally dedicated last year. The $30,000 bust was created by Gig Harbor artist Paul Michaels in order to commemorate this important figure in local history after the project was organized by local art guru Babe Leher before her passing last year.
To offset the remaining cost of the project, the Ruston Business District is selling commemorative bricks to be included in a walkable plaza surrounding the bust. There are two options for the bricks. The first, priced at $100, is 4-inch by 8-inch in size and allows for three lines of inscription with 18 characters each. The second option is priced at $125 and allows for the same with the addition of a symbol.
“The bricks are a great way to make a donation to the community, or to mark an event or honor somebody, to make them part of history,” said Ruston/Point Defiance Business District President John Trueman, who has already purchased one of the bricks with his wife. “The beauty of the bricks is that they’ll have a lasting presence in the community.” Anyone interested in purchasing a brick should visit www.explorenorthpearl.com/buy-a-brick to learn more.
Rust was a businessman, philanthropist and an active leader in the community in the early 20th century. His ownership and operation of Tacoma Smelter and Refining had an incalculable influence on developing the area into what exists today.
“Over 15 years he built [Tacoma Smelter and Refining] into a huge thing, the biggest employer in Pierce County. He invested in a lot of other things, especially mining in Alaska, and he became a benefactor to Tacoma. He was on the chamber of commerce, spearheaded getting the Stadium Bowl built and also, through Pierce County, they invited the Army to make Camp Lewis in the area,” Michaels said. Rust encouraged the area around Tacoma Smelter and Refining, known as “Smelter,” to incorporate, which is why the name was changed to Ruston in his honor.
One of Rust’s most notable accomplishments was serving as chairman of the board at Tacoma General Hospital and the creation of the Rust Trust, which covered half the cost of the construction of the Mary Bridge building that still exists today. “No visible credit is given to Rust’s contributions at the Mary Bridge building, by his request,” said Trueman. “It was important to a lot of people that his story be told.” This connection with the hospital led MultiCare to make a generous donation to the project, which was created under the fiscal sponsorship of the Tacoma Historical Society.