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Painting portrays the past

New mural resurrects bustle of downtown Beaverton
by: Jaime Valdez Beaverton Historical Society Vice President Bev Ecker holds up the rendering of a mural she plans to complete on the back of the society’s building, which was inspired by old photos of downtown.

It's easy to forget that Old Town Beaverton was once new.

A mural coming to life on the back wall of the Beaverton History Center, 12412 S.W. Broadway St., will soon remind downtown visitors of the city's early 20th century days as a mercantile boomtown.

Based on local artist Bev Ecker's rendering of a row of shops centered with a gazebo-like bandstand, the mural, 'Historic Broadway Street: 1910-1920,' depicts how Broadway - known first as Main Street - appeared in those years.

Still in its early stages of painting, the mural will cover the entire 70-foot-wide by 13-foot-high wall space and wrap around the corner about 10 feet.

When it's finished later this summer, it will be visible from the intersection of Hall Boulevard and Farmington Road as people drive, bike or walk by on Farmington - particularly once some bushes are trimmed.

From left to right, the mural depicts the historic M.P. Cady Store, with owner Mason Cady and his dog in front, the earliest Bank of Beaverton, Earl Fisher's Bandstand Gazebo and the Thrifty Market that occupied the building now housing the Beaverton History Center.

The 10-foot section around the building's corner will depict the front of an early Hardware store.

Ecker, a local historian and History Center volunteer as well as artist, said the mural would bring beauty to an otherwise drab wall facing railroad tracks, while providing passers-by a visual history lesson.

'The Beaverton community will learn about how our early downtown Main Street looked 100 years ago,' she said. 'And through this mural, they will 'meet' some of the important people, like Mr. Cady and Earl E. Fisher, who generously contributed so much to the development of our town.'

In the early 1900s, the 'town' had only a few hundred residents. The bandstand, which featured a fife-and-bugle band on the Fourth of July and during May Day parades, was the cultural centerpiece of downtown.

Fisher, who was - at ages 26 and 80, respectively - Beaverton's youngest and oldest mayor, will be among the people depicted in the mural. A teacher in Sherwood, Fisher helped start a baseball team, a small newspaper, a choir, band and hook-and-ladder crew, among other endeavors, in Beaverton.

'He would teach all day, then walk back (to Beaverton) to work on The Owl newspaper,' said Ecker, who works as manager of the Hearthstone at Murrayhill community for seniors.

The mural project is partially funded through an $8,000 matching grant from the Beaverton Arts Commission, which is encouraging community art projects. The grant will help defray costs of paint, supplies and labor, much of which Ecker is providing herself.

Another mural for which the commission provided matching funds, 'The School of Learning,' a whimsical depiction of nature scenes by local artist Angelina Marino, on the wall behind Pedro's Upholstery on First Street, is nearing completion (See accompanying story).

Helping Ecker with her mural are students from the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy, Beaverton and Sunset high schools.

Ryan Petty, a house painter and owner of 12 Disciples landscaping, is helping Ecker with the broad strokes. He said the surface needed significant scraping and preparation before the mural design could be applied.

'When we first came to the wall, it had to be scraped of 1930s paint,' he said.

Despite the early August sun adding to his sweat equity, Petty, a 20-year Beaverton resident, said he was happy to be part of the project.

'This is the first big mural I've ever done. It's a great opportunity to be involved with the community,' he said.

If all goes well, Ecker would like to dedicate the mural by Sept. 17.

Meanwhile, she said she's excited to be able to contribute a slice of art and history to the revitalization of Old Town Beaverton.

'We're trying to promote the historic district of downtown and make it more beautiful - a destination downtown,' she said. 'It will be a record of our past and help our community learn about where we've been - and inspire us to keep moving forward.'