Coming in on the (Rock) tide

Gimbel’s planned store-museum lands piece of Boothbay Harbor’s past
Mon, 10/29/2018 - 5:00pm

Story Location:
1 Pier
Boothbay Harbor  Maine  04538
United States

Mark Gimbel’s plan for the Mountain Tops Tees space on Pier 1 is getting a boost from a part of Boothbay Harbor’s past.

After learning from the former owners of Rocktide Inn that the model ships that once graced the property had been part of the Rocktide’s sale in 2017, Gimbel reached out the owner of what’s now Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort, Paul Coulombe, with a request:

Could those ships go on display at Gimbel’s new venture?

“He was happy to do it,” Gimbel said. “It’s going to be nice to have those back on display.”

Phil and Mary Lou Koskela, former managers at the Rocktide, welcomed news of the new home for the models.

“I thought they ought to be in a museum. They were that good,” said Phil, who worked at the Rocktide from 1975 to 2013, serving as general manager for the final 33 years of his tenure. “If they’re going to be displayed here, that’s a wonderful place for them.”

Said Mary Lou: “I really hope they show as many as possible. People used to come just to see those boats.”

The ship models were accumulated and displayed by H. Welles Steane, who established the Rocktide in 1968. Generations of visitors to the Rocktide marveled at the intricate designs and attention to detail, said Gimbel, who has childhood memories of gazing at the ships. Since the Rocktide’s sale, the models have been stashed away in a storeroom at the property.

In the new venture, called the Windjammer Maritime Heritage Store, Gimbel and wife Dianne plan to show off some of the ships in new display cases. While zoning requires that the space remain a store, the Gimbels also plan to celebrate Boothbay Harbor’s shipbuilding and waterfront, with a particular emphasis on schooners, such as the Bowdoin, built in East Boothbay in 1921. By focusing on schooners and their role in Boothbay Harbor’s maritime history, Mark Gimbel said, they’ll be able to touch on three distinct aspects of the shipping trade: shipbuilding, commerce and transportation.

The Gimbels also envision selling books, videos and other items, and hosting talks by local historians.

“It’s not going to be a traditional gift shop,” Mark said. “We’re going to incorporate local history in an engaging way.”

The Gimbels plan to take delivery of the ship models by Jan. 1 and tuck them away in warm storage while the rest of the plans come together. The store is projected to open next Memorial Day weekend.