History Timeline

Gilbane is a company steeped in family values.

Built By Gilbane

Gilbane is a company steeped in family values and a heritage that began in the rugged countryside of county Leitrim, Ireland.  In 1842, William Gilbane was born to Thomas and Bridget (O’Brien) Gilbane. To escape the “Great Hunger” the family relocated to the United States in 1845 making Rhode Island their home and welcoming the birth of their second son, Thomas, in 1854.  In 1870, William Gilbane founded a carpentry business, partnering with his brother shortly thereafter.

Since that time, Gilbane has built a reputation for fairness, discipline and an unwavering commitment to the highest performance in all facets of our business and operations as evidenced through our dedication to our Core Values. Today, strategic growth has offered Gilbane the opportunity to expand around the world.

Tour our Interactive Timeline

1844 – 1870
1870 – 1908
1908 – 1939
1939 – 1959
1960 – 1984
1985 – 2000
2001 – 2009
2010 – 2020
2021 – Present
  • The History of Gilbane

    Gilbane is one of the largest privately, held family-owned construction and real estate development firms in the industry. This timeline provides a brief overview of the Gilbane family history and Gilbane’s evolution from a carpentry business to a global firm.

  • September 21, 1844 – William Gilbane Born

    William Gilbane – Son of Thomas and Bridget Gilbane, natives of County Leitrim – Born September 21, 1844

  • From Ireland To The USA

    From Ireland To The USA

    Thomas Gilbane, his wife and young son William immigrated to America in 1845 from County Leitrim in Ireland at the height of the Great Irish Famine (also known as the Irish Potato Famine).

  • New arrival: Thomas Francis Gilbane Born November 5, 1854

    Thomas Francis Gilbane born – November 5, 1854 – Son of Thomas and Bridget Gilbane and brother to William.

  • 1870 – William Gilbane Founds Carpentry Firm

    In 1870, William went into business for himself as a carpenter and a builder.

  • 1871 – Thomas Gilbane Apprentices With Brother

    Thomas Gilbane entered upon an apprenticeship with his brother William Gilbane to learn the carpenters’ trade.

  • 1870 – 1882 William Gilbane Contractor and Builder

    William was driven by the belief that hard work, attention to quality craftsmanship and basic honesty would carry him through the recession (1870-1879). These basic principles formed the cornerstone that Gilbane’s reputation is built upon.

  • 1883 – 1907 William Gilbane and Brother

    In 1883, the brothers formalized their partnership by establishing “William Gilbane and Brother.” William Gilbane and Brother worked dusk to dawn, six days a week. They built homes so well the owners boasted (and still do) “Built by Gilbane” at resale.

  • 1894 – 1895 Roger Williams Park Museum of Natural History, Providence, RI

    Built between 1894-1895, the building was opened in 1896 and is still in operation today. Roger Williams Park Museum of Natural History and Planetarium is within Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island.

  • Holy Name Church cornerstone laid Providence, RI

    Built between 1896 and 1900, by William Gilbane and Bro., the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus was built in the romanesque style.

  • Like Tinder…

    On April 23, 1897, a large kerosene lamp exploded in the shop of Gilbane Brothers on Centre Street. The entire building was engulfed in flames. A small amount of lumber stored across the street was all that remained. Losses exceeded the insured amount. Thankfully the company’s books were locked in a fireproof safe and were not destroyed in the fire. This tragedy did not stop the brothers and their company. The company went straight back to work to ensure that their customers were not affected.

  • Brown University Providence, RI

    In 1900, the Gilbanes were contracted to build a colonial revival brick and marble house for Brown President, William Faunce on the corner of Hope and Manning Streets. This was the beginning of Gilbane’s long-standing relationship with Brown University.

  • Central Fire Station Providence, RI

    In 1902, the company won a major contract to build Providence’s new Central Fire Station, the largest public project at the time.

  • Gilbane Building Company Incorporated Providence, RI

    In 1908, Gilbane Building Company was officially incorporated. In the Providence Board of Trade Journal under building and Architectural Notes: Gilbane Building Company has been incorporated in Providence for purpose of engaging in the business of building, general contract work and manufacturing in wood and other materials, buying and selling land, houses, lumber, hardware, and other merchandise. Capital stock is $60,000. Incorporators are William Gilbane, Thomas F Gilbane, and William H Gilbane.

  • 1909 – 1938: The Loyal Years

    Three laborers were digging a ditch. “What are you doing?” asked a passerby. “Digging,” said one. “Earning five dollars,” said another. “Building a cathedral,” said the third. The Gilbane employee would be the one “building a cathedral,” said Thomas F. Gilbane commenting on his favorite story.

  • Second Generation Takes the Lead

    William H. Gilbane, son of William Gilbane became the second company president when his father retired in 1909. William ran the company through a poor economy. Loyalty and dedication became deep-rooted values. 90 Calverly St. Providence, RI becomes company headquarters.

  • Third Generation Take the Lead

    William J. Gilbane and Thomas F. Gilbane take over as President and Vice President.

  • 1943 – Gilbane awarded Army-Navy “E”

    Awarded for “…outstanding performance in wartime construction – and for preserving the unbeatable American spirit which can only be satisfied by achieving today what yesterday seemed impossible.” Under-Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal

  • GM Assembly Plant, Framingham, MA

    Following the sucess of the Navy work, Gilbane secured a national client in General Motors. In 1946, Gilbane built GM’s new assembly plant in Framingham, MA worth $12 million. It was the largest industrial plant in New England at the time. This was Gilbane’s first significant out-of-state project and marked a major milestone in the company’s development. The relationship with GM grew and in 1957, Gilbane was awarded the Fisher Body Plant project in Mansfield, OH.

  • 1946 BT Equipment Formed

    Up until this time, equipment for very large jobs had to be subleased. On the General Motors job in Massachusetts, the excavation subcontractor suddenly went out of business and Gilbane was left stranded. “Without hesitation, we jumped in and arranged to buy the equipment we needed,” said Bill Gilbane, Sr. BT Equipment Company became a tremendous asset to the business. BT referring to Bill and Tom Gilbane.

  • 1947 Precast concrete

    In 1947, under the guidance of Paul Choquette, Sr. (Tom and Bill’s sister, Virginia’s husband) Gilbane developed a system of pouring concrete year round under canvas tents. This precast method was first utilized by Gilbane in the construction of eight dormitory buildings at the University of Connecticut.

  • 1952 “The Big Squeeze” North Grafton, MA

    Gilbane wins contract to build the world’s largest closed die forging press for Wyman-Gordan Co.

  • 1960 – 1984: The Expansion Years

    “It was my father’s philosophy that it didn’t matter if a man ate steak or left behind a little or a lot of money. What really mattered was to leave behind a good reputation.” – Robert V. Gilbane

  • 1964 New York World’s Fair

    The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair hailed itself as a “universal and international” exposition. Gilbane built the iconic egg-shaped IBM Corporation pavilion for the Fair. Gilbane also built the India Pavilion, the Hawaii Pavilion and the New England States Pavilion.

  • 1976 Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC

    It was critical that the museum be ready for the nation’s bicentennial celebration on July 1, 1976. At a time when government projects were seldom completed as planned, this project was completed on time and under budget. The end result is a stunning piece of history that we can all be proud of.

  • 1970 – 1979 Real Estate Development Arm Created

    Under the leadership of Robert V. Gilbane, the company created a real estate development subsidiary in the 1970s that worked on projects such as joint ventures and affordable housing developments.

  • 1976 Miller Brewing Company

    Gilbane worked on eleven Miller Brewing Company projects spanning an eight-year period, totaling $1.3B and 8,000,000-SF, including a $10M barrel brewery with warehouse and packaging facility.

  • 1978 New Corporate Headquarters Providence, RI

    In 1978, Gilbane broke ground on its new corporate headquarters in Providence, RI. The design was planned to reflect the strong, forward-looking corporate image. On March 7, 1980, the brick four-story building opened its doors

  • 1980 XIII Winter Olympics Facilities, Lake Placid, NY

    The ice arena — home of the lengendary “Miracle on Ice” game — was a huge triumph for Gilbane. The inflexible deadline and strict budget imposed by the Olympic Committee presented great challenges.

  • 1981 Cleveland Clinic

    Gilbane built the Cleveland Clinic building, a 617,800 SF, 13-story freestanding ambulatory care facility that marked the start of numerous projects with the Clinic.

  • 1982 Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, Washington DC

    Work on site began March 16, 1982, five days after the design and plans received final Federal approval, and broke ground on March 26, 1982. The completed Vietnam Veterans Memorial was accepted by the President of the United States on November 10, 1984. Etched into the marble walls are the names of the nation’s 58,000 dead and missing of the Vietnam conflict.

  • 1998 Gilbane, Inc. is formed

    Gilbane Inc. was formed with Gilbane Building Company and what is now known today as Gilbane Development Company as its subsidiaries.

  • 1998 Genetech Inc. Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Campus

    This project included a biopharmaceutical manufacturing building, a laboratory/ office facility, warehouse, and support buildings on a 100-acre greenfield site.

  • 1999 National World War II Memorial, Washington DC

    The Memorial is the first national memorial dedicated to those who served during World War II and is located at the east end of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

  • 2001 Narragansett Bay Commission CSO Tunnel Providence, RI

    A 30-foot diameter, 690-ton hard-rock tunnel boring machine was used for the excavation through rock formations for the tunnel’s main spine along with various other excavation support techniques. The project also included constructing a 50-million-gallon-per-day pump station within a gymnasium-sized cavern carved out in rock 30-stories below ground; a state-of-the-art computer control system; and seven near-surface facilities that include structures for diverting overflows into 250-foot deep drop shafts.

  • 2004 Thomas F. Gilbane Jr. Named Chairman and CEO

    In 2004, Thomas F. Gilbane Jr. is named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gilbane Building Company

  • 2009 Kerry Ingredients & Flavours, Innovation and Technical Center, Beloit, WI

    The new state-of-the-art Innovation and Technical Center boasts customer application suites, research and development labs, culinary facilities, sensory services and a vast commercialization center dedicated to customer production commercialization.

  • 2010 Gilbane Acquires Innovative Technical Solutions, Inc. (ITSI)

    Gilbane Building Company announced the acquisition of Innovative Technical Solutions, Inc. (ITSI). Bringing ITSI into Gilbane broadened the firm’s capabilities with the U.S. Government, especially the Department of Defense, around the world.

  • 2010 Gilbane Acquires Florida-based W.G. Mills, Inc.

    Gilbane acquires W.G. Mills, Inc., a construction management firm with operations based in Florida. The acquisition dramatically strengthens Gilbane’s position in Florida’s growing market and complements its already established presence in the southeast.

  • 2012 Georgia Tech Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory Team, Atlanta, GA

    Named Builders of the Year Project: This highly modern building features 1,400 solar cells (including several hundred that act as cladding on the south facing side of the building) that make the building 87 percent energy self-sufficient. This team used integrated design to create a state-of-the-art design/build facility that strives to meet 2030 goals of carbon neutrality. Tenants include the Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute and other energy research teams. Perhaps the most remarkable part of the building is that there is no air-conditioning in the laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia. Using natural ventilation even in 100+ plus degree heat — there is so much air that goes through the building – up to 10 air changes a minute in the high bay lab that it stays cool.

  • 2014 GSA U.S. Diplomacy Center Pavilion

    The project comprised of approximately 22,375 square feet space adjacent to State Department’s old War Department Building along 21st Street, NW, in Washington, DC.

  • 2014 Gilbane Building Company names Michael E. McKelvy President and Chief Operating Officer

    In June 2014, Michael McKelvy has joined the company as President and Chief Operating Officer. He became CEO in 2016.

  • 2015 A Huge Achievement in Texas

    The largest project in Gilbane’s history, the ExxonMobil campus in Houston reaches completion. The complex covers 385-acres and is home to 10,000 workers. It features 14 office buildings, three parking garages, state-of-art central utility plant and several other buildings. The project achieved 17 million hours worked without a lost-time incident.

  • 2016 Los Angeles Office Opens

    Gilbane established its Los Angeles region, formally entering that urban marketplace.

  • 2016 118 Fulton Street

    Creating New Icon in Manhattan’s Skyline, read more here.

  • 2011-2016 ACE Mentor Program

    Gilbane CEO Tom Gilbane, Jr., served as ACE Mentor Program of America’s national chairman.

  • 2016 Paid Family Leave

    Gilbane launched our construction industry-first family leave benefit, offering employees four weeks of Paid Family Leave that can be used in a single block of time or intermittently.

  • 2016 Global Honors from ENR

    The Afghanistan Ministry of Defense in Kabul and the Kerry Foods Global Technology and innovation Centre in Naas, Ireland are named winners of ENR’s Best Projects Awards. The Ministry of Defense won the military category and the Kerry Centre won for Manufacturing.

  • 2017 Renovation

    Gilbane Inc. completed a $10-million renovation of its Providence headquarters

  • 2017 Constellation Brands

    Gilbane completed the world’s largest brewery, the Constellation Brands facility in Nava, Mexico.

  • 2017 Lucky 13 for Gilbane University

    Gilbane is named to Training Magazine’s Top 125 list at #39. It is the 13th time Gilbane has been earned a place on this prestigious list.

  • 2018 Japan Office

    Gilbane’s Japan office celebrated its 15-year anniversary.

  • 2018 $5 Billion Mark

    Gilbane exceeded $5B in annual revenue.

  • 2018 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

    Gilbane created Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to support inclusion, diversity, and belonging at the company. Each employee-led group has a mission and targeted demographic, but any employee can join any group as an ally.

  • 2019 Norton Museum of Art

    Gilbane finished construction on the award winning Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida.

  • 2019 Nathan Deal Judicial Center

    The Gilbane-built Nathan Deal Judicial Center in Atlanta, GA opened to the public with Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and Georgia native, Clarence Thomas attending the ribbon cutting.

  • 2020 40th Anniversary of Lake Placid

    Gilbane returns to work on Lake Placid Olympic Center. Forty years after historic “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey victory, Gilbane partners with the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority to modernize their facilities.

  • 2020 HARIBO

    Gilbane started work on the HARIBO of America production facility in Pleasant Prairie, WI.

  • 2020 Edge

    Gilbane completes work on the Edge, the highest observation deck in Western Hemisphere, including its restaurant, interactive exhibit space, and event hall.

  • 2020 Gilbane Celebrates 150 Years

    Gilbane kicks off its celebration of 150 years in business by thanking our Gilbane family of employees, clients, and partners. Please enjoy this short video as we raise Gilbane’s beam to the future.