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 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.