West Seattle Sees Itself As A Youngster -- Mural, Which Took 6 Months To Paint, Depicts Street Scene From '20S

Eric Grohe stepped up to a blank masonry wall in West Seattle one day last summer and began to create the past.

Painting in oils on a grand scale over half a dozen months, not applying the finishing touches until this month, Grohe has turned part of the wall into a large mural of a West Seattle street scene from about 1920.

So realistic is the mural that, at first glance from a distance, an old streetcar actually seems to be rumbling along tracks in the middle of a street. The whole scene is framed by a chiseled concrete arch, giving the mural a startling three-dimensional effect.

Portrayed is the crossing of the former West Seattle and Fauntleroy streetcar lines in the business district now known as the Junction (of California Avenue Southwest and Southwest Alaska Street). Also in the scene are West Seattle's oldest landmark, the two-story brick Campbell Building, built in 1918, and several people in period dress, one with an umbrella - proof that it rained in Seattle even then - and a black automobile from that era.

It's all there for all to see on the outside south wall of the Junction Feed & Seed Store, 4747 California Ave. S.W.

The mural, the second of two financed with a $17,661 grant from the King County Centennial Commission, will be dedicated at 10 a.m. Feb. 10.

The murals are part of a project whose sponsors include the Junction Development Committee, South Seattle Community College and the

Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Officials of those organizations are to attend the dedication, along with Grohe, and Phyllis Thurston, owner of the Feed & Seed building.

Grohe was paid $5,000 for his work. The Junction committee contributed $8,000 for painting of that and other murals.

Grohe, 45, an artist who lives on Queen Anne, normally paints on canvases. He doesn't consider himself a muralist, but he said he likes the opportunity for artistic expression that a large surface affords.

``I like to work big. That gives the opportunity for powerful work,'' he said.

His mural of the street scene is half a block south of the Junction's first centennial mural, painted by Portland artist William Garnett. That one depicts Seattle and West Seattle ferryboats, the West Seattle Cable Railway and Luna Park, all of which were on or around Duwamish Head near the turn of the century, according to the Junction committee.

Earl Cruzen, chairman of the Junction committee and coordinator of the murals project, said as many as six more murals with a historic context may be painted this year. They are to include depictions of the Old Spokane Street trestle and the open-air Morgan Street Market, and will be financed by private pledges of money and city matching money.