To book the Inn - visit www.airbnb.com or call Kimm Rust at 320-3367.
When Kimmberley “Kimm” Rust decided she wanted to market her historic home in Jamestown as a vacation rental, her financial adviser had some concerns.
“When I talked to my financial adviser about wanting to do this, he said, ‘Well, Kimm, I just don’t see Jamestown being a vacation destination,” Rust said. “And I said, ‘Maybe not, but I want to give it a try.’
“And he said, ‘Well, I think you can afford to try it for a couple years.’”
Rust proceeded to transform her home into the Rust House Inn, which opened for business in February when Rust listed it on the popular vacation rental website Airbnb.
“Within two weeks of listing it, I had 14 bookings,” Rust said.
And business has not slowed down.
“It was a busy June and July,” Rust said, explaining that the Inn was booked with guests for 21 straight days ending on July 17. “During that time, we had three or four quick changes, where somebody departs by 11 a.m. and by 3 p.m. we have to have the house completely changed over and ready.”
Rust hired three local teenagers to help with cleaning and maintenance. Christopher Sayler manages snow removal, while his sisters, Ciarra Sayler and Ceyonna Sayler, oversee the cleaning. Gary Gibson, a family friend who lives just two blocks from the Inn, serves as the property manager.
‘That’s how you’ll survive’
Rust and her former husband purchased the historic home in 1999, and their two sons were raised there.
In January 2014, following the couple’s divorce, Rust began an extensive remodel of the home that she described as a “catharsis.”
“After my divorce, 25 years after we’d been married, my mom said, ‘Get busy, that’s how you’ll survive this and that’s how your boys will survive this,’” Rust said. “So we gutted the house.”
The home was updated with a “modern farmhouse” theme - a nod to Rust’s childhood growing up on a farm near Grace City, N.D.
The home’s original, hardwood floors were reclaimed. Some of the original wood, like the wood around the fireplace, was painted white.
“It was, for me, dark and dreary and dingy and I wanted to paint,” Rust said, adding with a laugh, “Of course, when men hear painting turn-of-the-century woodwork, they feel like I should be tarred and feathered and taken out of town on a rail, but women generally love it.”
With the help of her sons, Rust completed many of the remodel and design projects herself.
“I know my way around a staple gun,” Rust said with a laugh. “I’ve done all the decorating myself. Me and HGTV.”
“This girl can do anything,” Gibson said.
When the remodel was finished, Rust hosted a worship team from Minneapolis at her house. The worship team stayed for five days while participating in an event at the Jamestown Civic Center.
“I thought, ‘I love this, I absolutely love this,’” Rust said. “And they kept saying things like, ‘Why are you in nursing? You should be in catering.’”
From there, the idea for the Rust House Inn was born.
Rust was happy to report to her financial adviser that people do, in fact, visit Jamestown.
“It’s the events,” Rust said. “People come to town for the events. And people are starting to look at Airbnb options online.”
The Rust House Inn has been booked by guests visiting Jamestown for a variety of reasons, including college visits, work-related stays, reunions, weddings, birthdays, funerals, church events, vacations and “girlfriend retreats.” Rust gets excited every time a girlfriend retreat is booked.
“The reason girlfriend retreats are so important to me is because of the strength and support I got from my girlfriends after the divorce,” said Rust, who has since remarried and lives on her husband’s farm southeast of Jamestown.
Rust also loves to hear about memories made at the Inn during special events, like weddings.
“A bridal party got ready here,” she said. “It just thrilled me to hear that on the morning of the wedding, they got up and dipped their toes in the hot tub and had a cup of coffee. That just makes it worth it to me - to hear that wonderful memories are being made and that people are enjoying this amazing house.”
Local residents have also booked the Inn to accommodate family members who are visiting from out of town.
“People say, ‘I’ve downsized and my family is coming, I’m so excited that there’s a place where we can stay together and make a holiday meal,’” Rust said. “Thanksgiving and Christmas booked up right away, and graduation next year booked up.”
“I’m so proud of her,” Gibson said. “She’s giving back so much to the community by opening the Inn. We’ve had nothing but rave reviews.”
History and legacy
A ton of history is packed into 2,700 square feet at the Rust House Inn.
“We believe that it’s a four-square craftsman, meaning two stories with four rooms on the main floor, an internal staircase and four rooms upstairs,” she said. “It has a lot of typical architectural features of an arts-and-crafts, turn-of-the-century home, meaning built-in woodwork, the deep eaves with the beams that stick out, those kinds of things.”
While city records indicate that the home was built in 1925, descendants of the family that first built the home believe it was actually built around 1918, Rust said.
One of those descendants, William Sundahl, who was born in 1914, recalled for Rust what it was like to grow up in the home. Sundahl told Rust that his parents used to host square dances on the barnwood floor in the basement.
Curious, Rust pulled up the carpet in the basement and discovered red barnwood floor, which she has since reclaimed.
In 1937, Sundahl married his wife in the living room of the house.
Rust believes that an external staircase was later added on to the home when it was used as an apartment building.
And in 1982, the Secret Service used the home as a base during a sting operation that led to the arrest of counterfeiters in Jamestown, Rust said.
“The Secret Service had a stakeout in my master bedroom in 1982 for three days, and the presidential limousine was parked in the garage,” she said.
Sitting in the home’s brightly lit kitchen under a sign that reads, “Dreams don’t work unless you do,” Rust reflected on all the people, lives and history that have touched the home. When asked what she hopes her legacy for the home will be, her eyes welled up with tears.
“I hope that marriages are repaired here,” she said. “I hope that wonderful family memories are made here, that kids will look back and say, ‘Do you remember when we went to Jamestown, North Dakota, and we stayed in that house and how much fun we had?’
“I’m passionate that this house be used to build beautiful memories for people - nothing would make me happier than if that were my legacy.”