Among Snohomish County’s smallest cities is Stanwood. With a population under 7,000, it boasts an arts and culture community balanced with tight-knit neighbors and a charming well-cared for historic downtown. The first European-Americans to settle in Stanwood were primarily Scandanavian, drawn to the Norwegian Lutheran church built in 1876—the first church of its kind to be built in the Pacific Northwest. Present-day Stanwood still shares that heritage on one of its “Welcome” signs, “Stanwood Home of Scandanavian Hospitality.”
Downtown Stanwood features several blocks of historic buildings dating back to the early 20th century, having been preserved by the city’s residents. It is, however, located in a 100-year flood zone and is at risk of flooding from the adjacent Stillaqgumish River. Some buildings have been relocated uphill from downtown, while the city government is actively working on a 10-year plan to redirect stormwater and prevent future flooding.
The Stanwood-Camano Arts Guild is responsible for an annual spring art show and the Art by the Bay festival in the summer. Home to the Pilchuck Glass School, founded in 1971 by Dale Chihuly, the area is now known as a center for glass artwork.
In addition to downtown and Stanwood’s endearing neighborhoods, a commercial center opened in the mid-1990s and is home to over 50 businesses, 10 restaurants, office buildings, a movie theater, and arcade. The development expanded to include multi-story condos and upscale apartments.