Just off Commercial Avenue in Old Town Anacortes, around the corner from the Rockfish Grill, a backyard has been converted into an outdoor venue for families and visitors to enjoy the arts and music.
Chris Terrell hopes The Heart of Anacortes can be a focal point to circulate the lifeblood of art and music through the community.
“It’s really essentially a yard, but it’s more than a yard,” said Terrell, who along with his nephew and business partner Mark Edson opened the outdoor venue in 2010.
In its third year, The Heart of Anacortes is a summer home to concerts and Anacortes Public Library Second Sunday jazz performances, and it hosts poetry readings and other community gatherings.
The venue is complete with a raised stage, sound and light systems, picnic benches, concession area, restrooms and space for about 200 chairs.
It’s all contained in the backyard of the historical childhood home of famous sculptor Philip McCracken, who graduated from Anacortes High School in 1947. The house itself is home to Terrell’s Web site development and graphic design and printing business, How It Works.
Terrell said The Heart has been in the works for a long time.
Terrell moved to Anacortes in 1971 and purchased Sunny Hill Kennels, where he still lives and works.
In 1994 he started leasing the back of the property at 416 Commercial Ave., which was home to the Star Bar and is now Frida’s Gourmet Mexican Cuisine.
Community members started walking in and asking him what he planned to do with the space. Terrell said his response was, “What do you think I should do?”
The location became a gathering place for artists and musicians, he said. At one point, a band told Terrell they’d like to print a poster for an upcoming show but couldn’t find a printer.
Terrell bought one of the first high-quality photo printers in the area, and How It Works grew from that.
“That’s why we’re still thriving, because we ask what the community wants,” he said.
In 1997, Terrell bought the historic McCracken family residence and property at 1014 Fourth St., and then in 2008 Edson bought it through his company 3 E Development LLC.
The Heart of Anacortes was a vision Terrell and Edson shared: a family-oriented venue to continue bringing the community together around music.
Edson said his son, Alex, who was involved in the Anacortes High School theater program, had ideas about the stage, lighting and sound.
The Heart opened in 2010. Edson said he and Terrell run it as a side business because they want to give something back to Anacortes and their neighbors. He said the operation does make a slight profit.
“But what’s a profit?” he said. “To me it’s if you can help the community — help people and do something we enjoy.”
Shows at The Heart typically begin at 5 p.m., so folks can stick around town a little longer instead of going home after work and then coming back, Edson said. It also encourages young families to attend.
“We have a lot of families come and bring their kids to listen to shows they might not otherwise,” Edson said.
This weekend Terrell turns 64, and concerts are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at The Heart. Saturday’s concert will raise money for The Rick Epting Foundation for the Arts, a nonprofit supporter of arts and music in Skagit County. Terrell is a board member.
Terrell said he hopes to expand the activities at The Heart, and he continues to take suggestions from the community as he works to find solutions for anyone who walks into his office wondering how something works.
“My door’s always open,” Terrell said. “I always say, ‘If I can’t do it, I’ll find the best people who can do it.’”
Check out Birthday Bash
Birthday Bash Weekend
The Heart of Anacortes
Corner of Fourth Street and O Avenue
Rivertalk, 5-8 p.m. Saturday
The Dusty 45s, 5-8 p.m. Sunday
Food from Reverie BBQ, drinks from Anacortes Brewery.
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