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Welcome to Our Website

The Anacortes Museum, Maritime Heritage Center and W.T. Preston exist to preserve and interpret the history of Fidalgo and Guemes Islands and to nurture in the community an awareness and appreciation of its heritage. 

The Anacortes Museum and our Maritime Heritage Center will be closed to visitors until further notice. Governor Inslee has ordered restaurants and bars to shutdown indoor service and museums are on the closure list in an effort to slow the coronavirus epidemic. 

Museum staff will continue to respond to phone calls and e-mails, and our website is a portal to a wealth of photographs, movies, yearbooks, newspapers, exhibits and other history.


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A Tribute to Anacortes Bowling

Bowling alleys have had a prominent place in the City of Anacortes' history from its very early days. In June of 1891, the one-month-old city passed Ordinance No. 9 "to provide for licensing and regulating the keeping of gaming tables and bowling alleys" for hire, and set the fee at $10 per alley per year. Offering free play did not provide an exemption. The ordinance stipulated that if players bet on the outcome, requiring the loser to buy a round of drinks or cigars from the host establishment, then the alley was deemed "for hire" and subject to the licensing fee.

It took more than a decade before a truly modern bowling alley was established in town. The first mentioned in the Anacortes American was Ernest Rhine's $1,700 Brunswick bowling alley, which opened in November of 1904 on 5th Street "near Judd's photograph gallery." This was to be a wholesome operation. "Mr. Rhine will at all times maintain the best of order and ladies will be admitted at any and all times," the American reported on Nov. 24, 1904. "There will be no rowdyism, the alley will be conducted as a strictly moral and first-class place." By September of 1905 Rhine had added a third lane. His brother Bert was soon operating the business, and sold it to Gene Woodin in 1907.

D.III.008 (Edited)

Early 1900's Anacortes bowling team. Left to right: Martin Pardis, Donald Duff, Dr. Edward Everett Butler (who was Mayor of Anacortes in 1897), saloon keeper Charley Newman, attorney Harry Barney, "Fat" Stewart and bowling alley owner Bert Rhine. 

In late 1908 Glen Wilkins (a local bowling champ) and Lea Dodge began construction of a 25x100 foot building on 5th Street between Commercial and Q, with three No. 1 Brunswick-Balke hard maple alleys. This is probably the structure behind the Majestic Inn that was demolished a few years ago. Wilkins and Dodge sold their interests the following year. The town's initial bowling mania in town cooled after the early 1910s, at roughly the same time the state's voters enacted liquor prohibition. 

In January 1914 a bowling alley at 303 Commercial was removed to make way for a second-hand furniture store. That year, construction plans for the Elks Club's new lodge at 6th and Q included a provision to add a future bowling alley, then the mention of bowling disappears from the pages of the American for the rest of the decade and into the 1920s. Bowling was one of the activities conducted in the Elks Home, which later served as a community building and then City Hall.

In February of 1925 Glen Wilkins tried once more to establish a bowling emporium. The Anacortes American reported that he was installing bowling alleys, billiard and pool tables, cigar cases, and a soft drink bar in the old Rose Theater. But by Nov. 1, 1928 the paper reported that the Rose Theater was to be demolished. 

WF 6834.003 (Edited)

San Juan Lanes while it was located at the Phillips Building, 918 4th St.

San Juan Lanes opened in the early 1950s on the second floor of the Phillips Building, 918 4th St., and old photos show the iconic neon bowling pin sign at this location. San Juan Lanes was successful enough to expand into a roomier facility, and construction began on the bowling alley at 2821 Commercial (the former site of the Nelson School) in August 1960. A drawing from that era shows architect Don McKee's concept for the building. This site served bowlers, arcade lovers, and connoisseurs of hearty American breakfasts for generations, until it closed its doors in October of 2020.

2019.063.845 (Edited)

Architect Don McKee's concept art for San Juan Lanes Commercial location.


FEATURE ARTICLE: The Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918

by Museum Curator Elaine Walker

Public Places Close 1918“With schools and businesses closed, nurses exhausted and many people caring for sick loved ones at home, it feels to us like the COVID-19 pandemic is historically unprecedented. However, Anacortes citizens faced an almost identical situation 100 years ago when the Spanish Influenza swept the world.”

So begins an in-depth article, Spanish Influenza in Anacortes, by our Curator of Collections, Elaine Walker, who put her reporter’s hat back on to research and write about these stories from Anacortes history. She has also assembled the original stories, found in online Anacortes American’s, which can be read in the original historic pages or in this chronological compilation, Spanish Influenza articles AA 1918-1920.  READ MORE…


Our Museums

Anacortes Museum - CLOSED

Located in the historic Carnegie Library Building.


Tuesday through Saturday
10 AM- 4 PM 

1 PM- 4 PM

Anacortes Museum Carnegie in 2017

1305 8th Street, Anacortes WA 98221


Free Admission

Anacortes Maritime Heritage Center - CLOSED

Located on the waterfront of downtown Anacortes.


Tuesday through Saturday

10 AM - 4 PM 


Maritime Heritage Center

703 R Avenue, next to the Great Northern Depot and the W.T. Preston.


Free Admission  

W.T. Preston

Our National Landmark sternwheel steamboat. 


Preston by Robert Geczi April 16, 2005

703 R Avenue, next to our Maritime Heritage Center

Tour Cost: $3-$5

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