After 38 years of business on Boothbay Harbor’s Pier 1, Mountain Tops Tees will be closing its doors. But when one door closes, another opens, or in this case, the same door: Mark and Dianne Gimbel will be moving into the space with a new kind of idea: “Windjammer Museum and Gifts.”
Walking down the back steps of Smiling Cow toward Mountain Tops Tees, Mark said, “You know, there's enough T-shirt/sweatshirt shops in town and this is a big space, so we thought it would be really cool if we could do a local maritime history museum and a store all in one.”
The museum and shop will focus solely on the history of the Boothbay Harbor-built schooners and their shipbuilding, commerce and transportation. For example, in 1921, Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard built the schooner Bowdoin which Commander Donald MacMillan piloted into the Arctic Circle, Mark said. Mark was enamored by this slice of history, so he shot over to Bowdoin College's Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum to pull up some archive photos he hopes to reproduce for some of the exhibits.
“We're also going to have a partnership with the Boothbay Region Historical Society,” Mark added. “We'll be able to send them visitors, if they want to learn more about the bygone Boothbay region. We think 99 percent of people who come down to Pier One don't even know about their treasure trove of history.”
If you know the Gimbels, then you know their vision doesn't end with pictures, anecdotes and artifacts. They are also thinking about some of the finer details.
“We're going to take the drop-ceiling out. We're going to have artifacts from local shipyards dating back from the late 1800s/early 1900s hanging from the ceilings. We’ll have schooner models throughout the store,” said Mark, pointing around the soon-to-be temporarily vacant space.
In the summer, Mark plans to bring speakers to the museum such as shipbuilders or locals with family stories of schooner adventures. He has even been kicking around the idea of an app with a walking tour of the museum. “There will be a lot more interesting history that we can't personally tell to every visitor, so they can just cruise around at their leisure and listen to this stuff.”
Museum entry will be free, said Mark. And the merchandise will be unique because the Gimbels are going to try to tie in the area’s schooner heritage.
“We'll have a whole section of products made out of sail cloth or – well, I don't even know yet, but we don't want to be like any other store. We want to be different.”
The projected grand opening of Windjammer Museum and Gifts will be Memorial Day Weekend 2019, the weekend of Saturday, May 25. Anyone interested in loaning their family's Boothbay Harbor historic schooner artifacts can email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dianne at email@example.com