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.