The town of La Conner boasts more retail businesses per square foot than any other in Skagit County. Set between the beautiful Skagit Valley and the Swinomish Chanel, La Conner is a truly special place for visitors and locals alike. Victorian-era homes and old fashioned commercial buildings line Morris and 1st Streets, creating a shopper’s paradise capable of being covered quickly in a day or thoroughly over a weekend. Eclectic shops line 1st street offering every gift and necessity you could be looking for or imagining.Once in the stores on the west side of the street, you will notice the Swinomish Chanel and boat traffic are just steps away. Restaurants offering waterfront dining and boardwalks with benches enticing you to stop and enjoy the sights and sounds.
La Conner is home to the Museum of Northwest Art, the Skagit County Historical Museum and the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum. These three sights alone can keep your attention captivated for days. La Conner landmarks include the much-photographed Rainbow Bridge. Its red color distinguishes it from any bridge in the Northwest. If you look carefully you can see it from Highway 20 driving from Burlington to Anacortes. The bridge leads to the Swinomish Indian Reservation and the private community of Shelter Bay where homeowners lease their land from the Swinomish Tribe. Quiet roads, a private marina, tennis courts, community center, and easy access to Skagit Bay are just a few of the reasons people call this quaint and peaceful part of Skagit County home.
Museum of Northwest Art
A one of a kind gallery awaits you at the Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA). The museum originally opened in 1981 under the direction of Art Hupy, a local photographer. With the help of a legion of volunteers and support from famed local artists, the Museum was moved from the 2nd floor of the Gaches Mansion to its current home on 1st Street. MoNA has been showcasing NW art to thousands of people each year with new exhibits and events around every corner. Do not miss the 2010 Art Auction on June 19th. This annual fundraiser will feature over 300 works of art and is MoNA’s primary fundraiser. For more information, please visit www.museumofnorthwestart.com.
La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum
Located in the Gaches Mansion, the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum is the only museum of its kind in Washington State. Established in 1997, the museum includes three stories of displays along with Victorian-era furnishings. With two new exhibits opening every three months and a rotation of quilts from their personal collection, there is always something new to see at the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum. For more information, please visit www.laconnerquilts.com.
Skagit County Historical Museum
Explore Skagit County’s rich and rugged history by touring the Skagit Legacy Exhibit, filled with over 180,000 artifacts depicting early Skagit life from the mountains to the sea. The collection includes farm equipment, household items, Native American pieces, tools and an extensive collection of dolls. Also included are thousands of photographs and maps dating back to the 1800’s. Sitting on one of the highest points in La Conner, the Museum’s gallery offers great vistas of Skagit Valley and an up close look at seasonal exhibits. For more information, please visit www.skagitcounty.net.
The Rainbow Bridge connects La Conner to the southernmost portion of Fidalgo Island, crossing the Swinomish Channel which extends from Skagit Bay to Padilla Bay. The bridge was completed in 1957 and has been burnt orange since the day the first coat of base paint was applied. The bridge was to be painted green, just like all of the others being built during that time, but strong local support for the color eventually sealed the fate of the now photographically famous Rainbow Bridge.
One of the most historic buildings in all of Skagit County is the Gaches Mansion, located on 2nd Street. The three-story Mansion with over 20 rooms was built for George and Louisa Gaches in 1891 as their personal residence when they moved from England. The Gaches brothers owned the J&G Gaches Mercantile which was eventually moved to Seattle. In 1905 Dr. G.E. Howe purchased the Mansion and turned it into Skagit County’s first hospital until he sold it just 4 years later. Between 1909 and 1927, the Mansion was owned by the Vaughn Family, who were part owners in the local grocery store. In 1927 the Mansion was converted into apartments with numerous alterations to the floor plan made in order to accommodate additional living quarters. In 1973 the building caught on fire and was vacated completely. The extensive fire damage left the entire third floor exposed to the elements and it was thought that the building would have to be torn down. The La Conner Landmarks Group was founded in 1974 and brought the Mansion back to its original glory.
For 14 years, starting in 1981, what is now known as the Museum of Northwest Art was located on the 2nd floor of the Mansion. Today it is owned by the City of La Conner and utilized as the home of the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum. For more information, please visit www.laconnerquilts.com.