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The Green Dragon

The Amasa and Marrietta Rust home

“Five generations of Macphersons lived in the elaborately-styled big house at 207 South Harrison, since 1878 a landmark of the years of Saginaw’s greatness as lumber center.”

“Its builder, the late Amasa Rust, Mr. Macpherson’s grandfather, used the finest woods obtainable, and there as her headquarters, Mr. Macpherson’s mother, Ida Rust Macpherson, carried on her role as a leader om the women’s suffrage movement and campaigns for civic progress. The home was sold in 1951.” The Saginaw News, February 2, 1953

For almost three quarters of a century, 207 S. Harrison was the home of Marrietta and Amasa Rust and their descendants. Marrietta Rust’s obituary notes that they had settled at the corner of Adams and South Harrison when they moved to Saginaw City in 1855. The 1877 atlas indicates that they had an earlier home located on a different location on the site.

It was a large, rambling home, described the Detroit Free Press as “[a] mass of peaks, gables, dormers, bays, porches, fancy chimneys and carved embellishments.” Although the main portion of the structure was in the Italianate style popular in the 1870s, it sported numerous additions and changes reflective of shifting fashions and the tastes of successive generations of the Rust family.

Well into the twentieth century, the Rust home is frequently mentioned in articles about the social events. It was even noted in the account of Amasa Rust’s January 30, 1893 funeral:” The large and spacious residence was filled with those who had come to pay the mark of respect to the memory of their honored friend and neighbor.”

While the name of the original architect and builder of 207 S. Harrison is unknown, on March 19, 1896, the Saginaw Evening News reported.: “C.E. Haug has drawn plans for remodeling the residence of Mrs. Amasa Rust on South Harrison Street.” Interestingly, this was less than a month after the same paper reported on a minor fire in the residence. Mrs. Rust recognized the valiant efforts of the firemen and presented them with a box of cigars. It is interesting to conjecture that the fire may have precipitated the remodeling.

It is quite possible that Haug’s work included the addition of a the distinctive Porte cochere that provided elegant protection for family and guests arriving and departing by carriage.

At some point the home acquired a nickname – the Green Dragon. According to local lore – the name was given to it by grandchildren of Ida Rust Macpherson. Another grandmother, Susie R. Hill, lived at 523 S. Jefferson in a house they called the Red Dragon – its scale-like shingled tower and terra cotta trimmed roof gave it a distinctly dragon-like appearance. The name stuck and a year after the home was sold outside the Rust Family, the Sunday, December 21, 1952 issue of the Detroit Press featured Roto featured: “Living is Fun at the Green Dragon.” The home had been purchased by Saginaw architect Glenn Beach and his family. According to the article:

“Along with the Green Dragon, the Beaches acquired crystal chandeliers, stained glass windows, parquet floors, inside shutters with adjustable louvers, five fireplaces, certain pieces of furniture too big to move out, and doorway tall enough for a giant to walk through.” , December 21, 1952, the Roto Magazine of the of the Detroit Press featured “ ‘A house like this proves one thing.’ The architect says. ‘Modern architecture defiantly gives more livability in less space and with less upkeep. When this house was in its heyday, it took five servants to run it.”

The article also notes that when one of the children lost a slipper it might take a week to locate it.

However, this would be the last chapter for the Green Dragon. In 1959 a much less flattering and cheerful article appeared in the newspaper:

“The new medical building fronting Adams, will be built on the site of a westside landmark – the old Rust Macpherson home. This was a lumber era mansion of 20-off rooms built in 1878 by Amasa Rust.”

In the old home’s later years it was painted a dark green color, thus became known as “The Green Dragon” – a rather dismal derelict of palmier days.” The Saginaw News, August 2019

Today, the Saginaw County Jail is located where the Green Dragon once stood.

Visit the museum to view a small display of photographs of the interior of the Green Dragon. It lived up to its reputation. The photographs will be on display starting August 10, 2022.

Later in the week we will focus on the Life of Ida Rust Macpherson.

Answer to Sunday’s Quiz

This is the advertisement placed by Mariette Grout Rust:

“WANTED -Competent second girl. Apply Mrs. Amasa Rust, 207 S Harrison.” The Saginaw Daily News, May 9, 1910

The other recipe was placed in 1919 by Helen Knowlton Rust, the wife of Amasa Miller Rust – the grandson of Mariette Grout Rust.


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