The Gilman Boathouse was recently purchased at auction by the City of St. Mary’s, Georgia after sitting vacant for over a decade. It is a prime piece of riverfront real estate on 2.5 acres of land. According to local historian Estelle Lewis, the property was used for entertaining out-of-town clients of “the mill” (Gilman Paper Company). It has a boat house, dock, in-ground swimming pool (now filled in), and Modernist home. Renovations are underway inside the home. The City calls the address a “park,” so visitors are free to wander around it while its future is determined.
The Gilman Paper Company was for 40 years one of the area’s largest employers and its legacy runs deep in the lives of the St. Mary’s locals. After the company changed hands following the death of Howard Gilman, it went bankrupt. Many employees never received their final paychecks or retirement benefits.
In late August, the City of St. Mary’s held a “visioning session” with the community to discuss development ideas for the property. Proposals included a bicycle trailhead, a marine science education center, a marina, a community center, and an environmentally friendly hotel.