If These Walls Could Talk – Anacortes House History Program

Anacortes House History ProgramExplore historic houses on Fidalgo Island

When their curiosity was piqued about their 1905 home in Anacortes, Bonnie and Matt Kerschbaum didn’t know it, but they owned perhaps the first (recorded) city home built by a member of a local native tribe. Eliza Blackinton, a member of the Samish Indian Nation living on Guemes Island, married Edwin Wilson, a local Anacortes merchant. When her brother drowned, leaving Eliza the proceeds from his insurance policy, she invested $935 to build the family a new home at 1801 9th Street. One can only speculate about why she turned to renting out the home following her husband’s death in 1917.

The Kerschbaums’ fruitful search was part of the House History Program, sponsored by the Anacortes Historic Preservation Board. Local residents are being taught how to search old maps, titles, and directories to discover the people and stories behind the city’s stoutly built clapboard and brick walls.

More than 125 years as a working waterfront community have infused Anacortes with stories to tell. There are tales of people who braved the rugged environment to settle the Northwest. Also those who tapped the region’s abundant natural resources to create jobs, towns, and stories.

To explore for yourself, grab a walking tour brochure and check out the museum’s Handbook of Anacortes House Styles. Better yet, visit for a day, stopping by the Anacortes Visitor Center (819 Commercial Avenue). There, pick up a guide to dozens of local historic buildings. Then stroll the city’s commercial streets and nearby tree-lined residential avenues for well-preserved glimpses of the city’s past. Be sure to watch for the handsome oval plaques that identify many of the homes’ original owners. To dig deeper, pop into the Anacortes Museum (1305 9th Street; Tues.-Sat., 10-4; Sun., 1-4). The city’s walkable (and bikable) historic Old Town neighborhood is adjacent to downtown. This makes it easy to fuel your search with a great lunch and fit in some shopping in the historic downtown. Finally, at the end of the evening, enjoy a frosty brew at any one of the great watering holes.

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