A.J. Gillen Department Store

Maxeys - Oglethorpe County
c. 1907

The Story

Located on Main Street, the A.J. Gillen Department Store was built in 1907 when Maxeys was a booming cotton town. This upscale store boasted the only elevator in the county and an intricate, wrought iron staircase lit by an overhead skylight. The store featured everything a fine department store could offer, including men’s clothing, a ladies’ department, groceries, piece goods, furniture and more. The collapse of the cotton economy in 1929-1930 led to the store’s closure. The building was subsequently used as a general merchandise store and a small plant for the manufacture of paper boxes before becoming vacant for many years. It was purchased in the 1980s and last used for a period of time to manufacture wood burning stoves.

The Threat

The building currently sits vacant. Due to Maxeys’ isolated location, the large size of the building and its deteriorating condition, attracting a business to the A.J. Gillen Department Store is a challenge.  Without that investment, the building will continue to deteriorate.