Demolition of Ballard bar unveils mystery mural

SEATTLE -- The ghost of taverns past appeared in Ballard last week - although, perhaps, not long enough to tell a complete story.

Construction crews demolishing The Viking, a tavern that once stood at 6404 24th Ave. NW, unearthed a painting hidden beneath the walls near the bar's entrance. The painting depicts a man wearing Viking horns and a cape, holding a sword, looking out onto the water.

A large painting of a cartoonish Viking drinking a beer stood at the same spot - near the entrance to the bar - until it closed last year.

"We've been told by previous tenants here that this has a picture underneath it," then-owner Tim Cannon told KOMO News on the bar's final day.

The watering hole had stood at that location since 1950, but closed in April when the owners sold it to make way for a 72-unit apartment building.

Construction workers intended to save the newly-unearthed painting, but arrived at the construction site early Monday morning to find that someone destroyed it over the weekend.

"Unfortunately, the vandals got to it before we could save it. We've had a lot of vagrant problems," one of the members of the construction team told KOMO.

A pile of the large chunks of the painting sat near the construction site fence line Monday night. A worker shuffled through the pieces, wondering if could still be salvaged.

"I'm really disappointed that (someone) felt the need to (destroy it). They're not professionals, so how would they know how to remove something that important?" asked Tasha Vander Meer, a third-generation Ballardite whose grandmother once lived on Leary Way. "It sounded like some folks were trying to save it potentially or give it to the Leif Erikson museum. I hope whoever did it feels bad."

"It's always sad, I think, when history gets town down, especially with what happened (here)," said Alex Leuzzi, who lives close to where the Viking once stood. "Then when you take it away, and then what, put up more condos that look exactly the same as the condo right down the street? It's like you're taking away from what people love so much about this town."