Last call for West Seattle Junction mural ‘Midnight Call’


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One of the West Seattle Junction’s historic murals is history.

The mural called “Midnight Call” was removed today from the south side of 4711 44th SW.

By the time we noticed the removal work in progress, while passing through The Junction earlier this afternoon, most of it was down already, and a short time later, the remaining panels were gone. The mural by Don Barrie depicted a horse-drawn fire rig leaving a long-ago firehouse nearby, as explained toward the end of this page about some of Barrie’s work.

It was removed with regret, we heard from Mark Swanson, son of the namesake of the building’s main tenant, Don Swanson Insurance, telling us his dad was so proud of the mural. Swanson says the building’s owners are having some exterior work done, and the mural already was rotting – it had to be taken down and couldn’t be saved. As you can see in this photo from five years ago, it was also faded – compare it to the photo below, from the mid-’00s:

(Image Credit: Seattle Online)

While checking into the situation, we noticed vandalism on another mural on the west side of 44th SW, “Press Day” – tagging vandalism in brown paint over its lower-right corner. And that is almost directly across 44th from the “First Duwamish Bridge” mural, which, as first reported here in February, was badly defaced by vandal(s) with black spray paint. The West Seattle Junction Association has continued to work on figuring out whether it can be saved; director Susan Melrose told us today that they have a $5,000 bid for repair work, but no plan yet on how to proceed.

You might be surprised to hear the murals aren’t publicly owned. They were commissioned a quarter-century ago as part of a project that won a national award in 1992, as noted here, but most have deteriorated to some degree, with no central plan for care or preservation. One exception: The parade mural on the side of the Junction Post Office, restored in 2007.

Coincidentally, the West Seattle Art Walk committee had been working on a plan for a walking tour of the murals sometime later this year. Now, there’s one less mural to see.

18 Replies to "Last call for West Seattle Junction mural 'Midnight Call'"

  • Sandy Adams April 12, 2016 (3:59 pm)

    Dan, owner of Peel and Press, has been working to restore the mural on the back of the Starbuck’s building.  I think Clay Eals had something to do with it too.  Hope they can save it–such a shame that they are not being preserved…

    • WSB April 12, 2016 (4:09 pm)

      Haven’t heard any updates on that in a while – thanks for the reminder. Also, I should mention that the mural removed when the old Huling dealership was demolished at Fauntleroy/Edmunds, “Alki in the Twenties,” is supposed to be “digitally recreated” on a wall of The Whittaker, the development going up on its site. We need to photograph the remaining murals before anything else happens … TR

  • JayDee April 12, 2016 (4:10 pm)

    With that dark blue paint in direct sunlight it was doomed to perish early.  But it was cool back in the 1990s.

  • Peel & Press April 12, 2016 (4:39 pm)

    Hi Sandy,

    I am working on a new round of bids for the project in the Morgan Junction.  I have been working on soliciting feedback from Clay Eals and MoCA to make sure I move forward in the best interest of the both the neighborhood the spirit of the original project.  There will be a big update coming shortly and hopefully work will take place this summer. 


  • seaopgal April 12, 2016 (4:46 pm)

    This was definitely my favorite of all the murals.

  • CanDo April 12, 2016 (5:46 pm)

    Loved that mural.  When it first went up, it was breathtaking! 

  • kg April 12, 2016 (5:47 pm)

    New fire station going up near 37th and Alaska. I wonder if there is wiggle room to put up a recreation on the side of the new building?

  • JayDee April 12, 2016 (7:19 pm)

    KG, even a smaller one. In Delft-like tile it would last forever.  See the tiles at Constellation Park–Maybe the artist has a good picture.  Lezlie Jane was the band leader for Constellation Park additions at Richey Viewpoint to be correct (I think). The improvements included the tidepool simulation, the tile wall(s) and the Constellations.

  • JayDee April 12, 2016 (7:32 pm)

    My bad: The parks proper name is “Constellation Park at the Charles Richey Sr Viewpoint”

  • LAintheJunction April 12, 2016 (9:06 pm)

    What a loss to our community, I walk by that mural nearly every day and it will be missed. Maybe I’ll go take pictures of all the rest before they’re gone too. 

  • Lesley Holdcroft April 12, 2016 (9:46 pm)

    I am interested in creating nine more murals for West Seattle – murals that include our indigenous past. If you’d like to join me in creating this reality, please email me at Best wishes, Lesley Holdcroft 

  • wssz April 13, 2016 (2:17 am)

    “Midnight Call” was one of my all-time favorite murals. All of these provide vivid reminders of West Seattle’s recent history.  

    I remember when these murals were commissioned. At the time, I didn’t fully understand their significance to the community.  I have come to deeply appreciate them, and see them as part of our fundamental fabric.

    They should be publicly owned — they are public art, no different from Walking on Logs at the entrance to WS. Is there any way we can encourage their purchase so that they can be preserved? 

    And I see that Lesley Hodcroft is willing to create more murals from her comment above. I would love to see this become a reality, and for artists to be commissioned for these projects. Especially if ongoing support is available so that they are part of our permanent public art.  

    — I love  Lezlie Jane’s work too, if she is interested in being part of this.

  • Joan April 13, 2016 (9:01 am)

    Love Don’s work. It’s a shame this mural could not be saved. Can we persuade Don to do another?

  • emcat8 April 13, 2016 (12:26 pm)

    Wow, this breaks my heart. That was my favorite of all the WS murals. I can’t help thinking that if more people had known about it, there might have been some kind of solution to saving and re-creating it somewhere else, some kind of campaign. It’s really a shame that no one even tried.

    • Margaret Barrie April 13, 2016 (3:07 pm)

      Wow!   you would think that the artist would have been notified.  We would loved to have known before it came down today.

       Margaret Barrie for

      Donald Barrie artist/muralist

  • RayWest April 13, 2016 (7:07 pm)

    It is shocking that it and the other murals were just left to deteriorate. Public art is supposed to be permanent and maintained. This was one of my favorites, so it really was a shame to see it just waste away the way it did.

  • BJG April 13, 2016 (7:11 pm)

    Seems not long ago that I had my  pre-kindergarten immunizations in that fire station. It was in the early ’50s   Then the Visiting Nurse Service was housed there. The building occupied the present site of the bus stop/Junction Parking  on Alaska and 44th. The old garage doors were still there, exactly as pictured in the mural. But no horses. I’m not THAT old. I will miss my visual connection to old West Seattle. Thanks again to the artist and its owner.

  • Margaret Barrie April 14, 2016 (3:54 pm)

    “Midnight Run” as a historic sight is still a good idea, and
    I agree with Swanson the mural had faded and needed to be taken down. Over time
    Murals will fade from the sun and the plywood deteriorates.

    I want to thank the West Seattle Blog’s editor, Tracy Record
    for informing us about the “Last Call’ for “Midnight Run”.

    About five years ago, I suggested we stay with the historic
    landmark and create the art in steel or stainless steel. “Midnight Run” as a
    silhouette would be just fine. The Shire horses with the steam pumper would be
    cut in steel or aluminum in a silhouette and put back up in a similar position,
    close by, or near Swanson. 

    “Midnight Run” kept going for almost twenty-five years and
    steel would endure indefinitely with moderate care.  It could be made out of quarter inch steel or
    thicker. Metals such as cor tan steel is designed to rust to protect and form a
    hard coating.

    I can contact
    South Seattle College to see if they would be willing to do the cutting and the
    welding.  I was informed about the first project
    in 1988 when I met Earl Cruzen while teaching at South Seattle College. This
    is one more way that South Seattle College can be visible to the new Junction

    You can reach me at:

    Don Barrie

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