The Victorian commercial building on the right was originally home to the A. J. Gillen Department Store. In naming it a Place in Peril, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation noted: 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.
I made this photograph several years ago and haven’t been through Maxeys in some time. I believe there was an effort to restore it, but do not know of any progress.
This historic general store and Masonic Lodge in Maxeys was lost to a tragic fire on 16 January 2021. [Thanks to Jennifer W. Newton for sharing the unfortunate news on the Vanishing Georgia Facebook group. My condolences go to the family who lost their loved one in this tragedy]. It was owned by the Vernor family for many years. It was most recently home to Maxeys Country Store and had been converted to dual use as a residence. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Sally Giles wrote: I have many good memories of going into Mr. Vernor’s store in the 70s and 80s and trying on what my mom called “train suits” that looked like they were from the 60s. These were very sensible skirts with matching jackets that you would wear on the train, or later on the bus. Mr. Vernor had ladies gloves that you would have worn to church that were lain perfectly crossed over each in the long glass cabinet just waiting for glove wearing to come back into style. He told me that his wife would order the ladies things, and that he had not bought anything new for the cases since she had passed. Mr Vernor always wore a black suit no matter how hot it was, and the store had no air conditioning. His shirt was a starchy white, buttoned up all the way with no tie. I can remember feeling hotter than I should have just looking at Mr. Vernor in his black suit. Over time there was not much that was really for sale that anyone wanted except myself buying the old clothes, but there were co-colas (all beverages were called co-colas) and crackers that looked kinda old for sale on the rack. I have other memories that I could tell, but won’t.
Maxeys was first known as Shanty, then as Salmonville. The town as named in honor of Jesse Maxey, who gave land for the Georgia Railroad right-of-way. Though the advent of the railroad in 1839 helped the town thrive, Maxey thought it to be a dangerous innovation and moved his family out to the country. One of Georgia’s first commercial fertilizer plants was built there in 1874 by William B. Brightwell. The town was incorporated in 1907.
The two-story building on the left was the A. J. Gillen Department Store.
The old Georgia Railroad line that ran through Maxeys in its busier days was removed in the 1980s, but the depot remains the most tangible evidence of those times. Formally abandoned by Seaboard in 1984, the depot was once an integral part of the Georgia Railroad’s 40-mile branch that ran from Union Point to Athens. I haven’t located a date for the depot.
Guy R. Brightwell, a former resident of Maxeys and this home, bequeathed his large estate to this corporation in memory of his father, Augustine Thomas Brightwell, and is used for the education of students of this locality.
The Brightwell scholarships have been administered for many years. Mr. Brightwell was a great advocate of education. Generations of students have benefited with up to 80% of their tuition being paid, the only stipulation being that they live within two miles of Maxeys and maintain passing grades.
This gabled-ell Victorian cottage originated as a saddlebag house circa 1844 and was expanded to its present configuration in 1877. The property was first occupied by Dr. Milledge Spencer Durham, who was also an early postmaster in Maxeys. The adjacent apothecary was used as an office and compounding pharmacy until the last of the Durham doctors, Dr. Samuel Davis Durham, gave up his practice in 1923.