1999 was a powerfully creative year on Camano Island. At the same time as the first Studio Tour was being organized, local and county stakeholders were determining what would become of parcels of land at Terry’s Corner. This is the triangle you encounter the tip of heading onto the island where Highway 532 splits into East and North Camano Drive and which extends up at its widest part to the Camano Commons, Windermere, and Coastal Bank. Plans for what would become the Camano Gateway building were being collaborated on by a mix of local artists and architects.
The Gateway was designed to be a visitor center, replacing the first less permanent structure. During the months of May 1999 through summer resident artists, patrons and contractors built the Gateway. Local welding company Wesweld built the metal frame of the exterior awning and the wall for the stained glass window designed and installed by Jack Archibald.
Above: The original Visitor Center in 1986, same spot in summer 1999
The Gateway sculpture, designed by Karla Matzke and manufactured by Wesweld was installed on the same tip of the corner, designating an ‘entrance’ to the island and to the creative energy it is saturated with.
In the years immediately following the construction of the Gateway building (then called a‘kiosk’), efforts by Camano Action for a Rural Environment (CARE) and State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen saw the remaining parcels of land become designated for limited development, with a full third of it set aside for a park as a donation to the community by Brown & Cole.
In the latter part of 2022 renovations to the Gateway building were undertaken to repair leaks and flooring, and this former visitor’s center became available to lease. In January of 2023 the Camano Arts Association took the lease to the building it imagined and built 25 years ago. The vision of resident artists to make use of a well appointed and sizeable chunk of land has come full circle. From a funky shack of a visitor’s center at the tip of a blank canvas of property we now have for all to enjoy:
- The Camano Gateway, leased by the Camano Arts Association, filled with art by member artists
- Freedom Park Playground
- Freedom Park with Sculpture Garden
- County Transit and parking
- The Camano Commons, with restaurants, shops, two bakeries, a Windermere office and bank.