For 63 years, residents and visitors have flocked to Gwynn’s Island for the annual Gwynn’s Island Festival. Many don’t realize, however, that there are some other gems to enjoy on their way to and from the main event.
For the first time on Saturday, the Mathews Maritime Foundation will open its newest edition to festival-goers—the boat shop. Located just beyond the bridge heading onto the island, the boat shop, formerly owned by renowned boat builder Gilbert Klingel, offers a rich history of its own.
The original boatyard was established in the 1950s, according to Klingel’s daughter, Marcy Benouameur. There, he built steel-hulled sailboats for many years.
"We are now so happy that the property has become a working waterfront where all kinds of maritime activities are taking place," Benouameur said.
Most recently, "The Peggy," a Mathews-built deck boat being restored to showcase the legacy of the watermen and the maritime heritage of Mathews County, was launched from the boatyard, a major step in its rehabilitation. The historic boat, which was donated to MMF in 2008, will be on display Saturday for visitors at the boat shop and MMF members will be available to talk about The Peggy’s history. Several book signings are planned at the shop.