News - Winter 2020

New things are happening every day at the museum. Here you can find news related to events, projects and newly discovered information.

Chuimei Ho POSTPONEDPresentation Postponed: Chinese in Early Northwest

The Anacortes Museum event on Chinese in Early Northwest America will not occur on March 25, 2020 due to the Skagit County Public Health Emergency and Health Officer Recommendations that the community should consider postponing events and gatherings for large groups of people. When it is rescheduled, we will place it on our calendar and announce it publicly.

Museum Youtube Content


The Anacortes Museum offers many ways to study and immerse yourself in the history of Fidalgo and Guemes islands. From our exhibit panels to our massive online database of old photographs, the museum prides itself on not only being a time machine for our town, but being one that is able to interpret history for a modern audience. We’ve gotten a little more modern with the launch of an official Anacortes Museum Youtube Channel.

Rare historical footage and films, from as early as the 1950s, have been released from our archives and are up for public viewing. Marvel at the legendary Anacortes Seahawks basketball teams, learn about the extensive waterfront history of Anacortes told by those directly involved, witness the breathtaking destruction of the “Little Chicago” fires of 1957, and more!

The museum has also begun producing exclusive original content for the channel. Whether it is a documentary exploring the early days of the Scott Paper Pulp Mill or an interview and performance with local musician John Van Deusen on our 1866 pump organ, there are more documentaries being produced in-house to look forward to.

Be sure to check our social media frequently for updates from the channel, or feel free to subscribe at

Welcome to Organ Territory!


Recently we’ve started an exciting new project here at the Anacortes Museum. For years our antique 1866 Packard pump organ sat soundless in our exhibit. Its exquisite design fascinated visitors, but they were barred from its true purpose by a small piece of paper stating, “Please Do Not Touch.” Perhaps, we thought, it was time to take Anacortes’ oldest pump organ out on a spin.

Thus, Organ Territory was born and the organ finally has the chance to sing again!  In collaboration with local musicians, we are releasing intimate monthly organ recordings from inside the Carnegie Gallery. After performing, the musicians sit down with us for an interview with conversations exploring the history and community of Anacortes, and learn how these talented artists have sprung up from the fertile musical soil in Anacortes.

Our first recording was with indie rock/power pop/punk star John Van Deusen. Topics of discussion ranged from fatherhood to his love for city planning. The second episode featured alternative/folk artist Pearl Tottenham who spoke about what it was like to grow up in the Anacortes music scene. Both of these episodes feature the musicians playing unreleased music on our antique organ. You can find our first two episodes and all future episodes on the Anacortes Museum Youtube channel.

Museum Story gets on KIRO Radio!


“I’m willing to claim that Anacortes High School has the oldest functional graffiti rock in the State of Washington unless somebody proves me wrong.” This was the bold claim that Anacortes Museum Director, Bret Lunsford, made on KIRO Radio early this morning. Earliest museum records about the painting of the rock go back to 1958, but art on “The Rock” may have begun earlier. If you know of pre-1958 painting on the boulder behind AHS, museum staff want to hear about it.

The museum’s recent story about the AHS graffiti rock was picked up by KIRO host and historian, Feliks Banel, whose morning show included a summary of the article. Banel went on to ask his audience to send in information on their own local graffiti rocks, in order to produce a comprehensive list and map of these landmarks statewide.

Listen to the show here:

If you haven’t read the article yet you can find it here:

2020 Speakers at the Anacortes Public Library

The Anacortes Museum will host a series of presentations in 2020 on the multicultural history of early Anacortes and the Pacific Northwest. The authors and presenters will explore diverse subjects, relating to both opportunities and barriers regionally, and focusing on particular immigrant communities in Washington State as well as the Coast Salish people who have been here since Time Immemorial.  

Croatian Fishing Families of Anacortes with Bret Lunsford 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 – Anacortes Public Library - 7 p.mCroatian Fishing Families

Anacortes has been influenced by immigrants from many places; those from the Dalmatian Coast of what is now Croatia began arriving around the 1880s. This presentation will follow the patterns of Croatian immigration to Anacortes, navigate the fishing industry as it evolved, and visit the neighborhoods of historic Anacortes to learn about small-town life here in a bygone era. 

Japanese American Exclusion during WWII with Clarence Moriwaki

Wednesday, February 26, 2020 – Anacortes Public Library - 7 p.m. 

In MarchExclusion Act of 1942, 227 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes on Bainbridge Island by the U.S. Army. Starting with this small community, a national strategy began, with more than 120,000 Japanese American men, women, and children forcibly removed and incarcerated during World War II. Clarence Moriwaki shares the story of Bainbridge Island to provide a human, historical account of this national tragedy, and to ask the question, “Are there parallels to what’s happening in America now?” 

Chinese in the Early Northwest with Chuimei Ho & Bennet Bronson 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 – Anacortes Public Library - 7 p.m.

The Anacortes Museum event on Chinese in Early Northwest America will not occur on March 25, 2020 due to the Skagit County Public Health Emergency and Health Officer Recommendations that the community should consider postponing events and gatherings for large groups of people. When it is rescheduled, we will place it on our calendar and announce it publicly.Chineseinearlyamerica2

The presenters have authored the books, “Three Chinese Temples,” and “Coming Home in Gold Brocade: Chinese in Early Northwest America,” putting Anacortes Chinese in a wider context. They also manage a research website ( to encourage collaboration in exploring the history of Chinese immigration in the Pacific Northwest, from the first known arrival in 1788. 

Interwoven Lives: Indigenous Mothers of Salish Coast Communities presentation by Candace Wellman 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 – Anacortes Public Library - 7 p.m. 

InterwovenLives_2In this companion work to “Peace Weavers,” her previous book on Puget Sound’s crosscultural marriages, award-winning author Candace Wellman depicts the lives of four additional intermarried indigenous women who influenced mid-1800s settlement in the Bellingham Bay area. She describes each wife’s native culture, details ancestral history and traits for both spouses, and traces descendants’ destinies, highlighting the families’ contributions to new communities.

Marine Tech students refinish more W.T. Preston wooden doorsMarine tech Margeson Kinney Preston door story

January 3rd, 2020

Year by year, local students at the Northwest Career & Technical Academy are helping to preserve the W.T. Preston, door by door. Over the past few years, students working with Wes Fridell, Marine Services Instructor at the NCTA, have collaborated with Dave Margeson, Maritime Curator at the Anacortes Museum, to refinish the custom-made doors on the snagboat. The doors are unhinged from the boat, and the work is done at the Academy.

This project began as an outgrowth of student visits to the W.T. Preston, a National Historic Landmark sternwheeler located near Cap Sante Marina. “When our class took the tour, Dave was interested in having some re-finish work done on some of the Preston's exterior doors,” Fridell stated. “We both felt that it just might be right up the students' alley.”

The W.T. Preston requires frequent maintenance of all kinds, and is closed yearly from November through March for preservation work. Other projects on the list this season are replacement of stairs and preparation for a Heritage Capital Projects grant application to help fund major projects.

Photo Caption: Dave Margeson and Nick Kinney, a senior at Burlington Edison High School, pose next to the wheelhouse door refinished last year by students at the Northwest Career and Technical Academy. Kinney will be assisting with work on another door in 2020.

Farewell to Kate

January 2nd, 2020P1160093

The Anacortes Museum team is saying goodbye to our Education and Media Curator Kate Clark, a talented artist who is leaving the museum to pursue two significant art commissions. Congratulations, Kate!

She has been an innovator, bringing in new people, projects and ideas, and instrumental in expanding the museum's social media presence. It has been a pleasure to work with Kate for the past almost-two years. We look forward to seeing the creative work she will accomplish in her next endeavors.