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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Business shares historic mural based on Bird’s Eye of Spokane Falls

The Bird’s Eye View map of Spokane Falls in 1884, photographed this past summer, measures 149 inches wide and 89 inches tall. (File)

A huge mural painted from an original Bird’s Eye View map of Spokane Falls in 1884 is now on public display at a downtown business office.

Express Employment Professionals, 331 W. Main Ave., has the mural hanging on a brick wall just inside the entry.

The mural joins a collection of art, glass and historic pieces at the office.

“People are so welcome to stop in and take a look,” said Shannon Birchler, an account manager at the employment office.

The oil painting on canvas is 149 inches wide and 89 inches tall. An inscription on the back indicates it was completed in 1938 and signed by an artist with the last name of Hart.

The painting originally hung in a commercial office, possibly a bank, before going into storage.

The former owner, Barbara Armstrong, left the mural in her estate, which is held by her children. They are seeking to sell the mural.

The piece is an artist’s rendition of the 1884 Bird’s Eye View of Spokane Falls in what was then Washington Territory. The image shows the city prior to the destruction caused by the fire of 1889.

The mural shows most of the features on the original Bird’s Eye View map, including two steam trains on the transcontinental Northern Pacific Railway line.

The Bird’s Eye View was done during a period when city portraits became popular across the country. Artists would create the images from an elevated perspective as if from the vantage point of a bird.

Washington State University identifies the Bird’s Eye artist as Henry Wellge, working through publisher Beck & Pauli, of Milwaukee.

Express Employment is a recruiting and temporary job placement office owned by Ira and Susan Amstadter.

The office is in a 1910 building that was originally a bank and then a grocery and sundries store.

It was the Victory Market and Grocery from 1938 to 1956.

The Amstadters’ office sponsors monthly art displays for First Friday events downtown.

Other pieces on display include African masks. Ira Amstadter served in the Peace Corps and lived in Africa.

He is known in Spokane for wearing a gorilla suit during the St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown and during the Bloomsday run.

Susan Amstadter is a Spokane attorney.