Windham Hill United Church of Christ
Windham Center Road
The First Congregational Church of Windham was established at the founding of New Marblehead in 1737 but was unable to call a minister until 1743 when Rev. John Wight came to serve the seven church members. Parson Peter Thatcher Smith was the second to minister to the citizens and he served from 1762 until 1790.
When this fifth structure to house the congregation was built in 1835 on Windham Hill, it was the first church in town to have a bell. The name of the church was changed in 1972 to the Windham Hill United Church of Christ, Congregational.
There is a carillon in the steeple and Windham’s first bell is located here. The original meetinghouse had box pews (one door painted green with black numbers is still upstairs in the choir loft.) Of post and beam construction, the interior with white plastered walls and vaulted ceiling is simple and austere as was the custom of the Puritanical influence on the Congregationalists. A lovely stained glass window was added in 1924. Before the adjacent Fellowship Hall was built in 1959, the vestry was divided into three classrooms for the church school.
Long handled collection boxes and a few old footstools are still in use. When the furnace was installed in 1947, a very old silver chalice and pitcher communion service was found wrapped in cloth and stashed away in the basement crawl space.
There is a Greek Revival pediment and flush boarding outside, a Federal fan on the front and Gothic arched window treatments which are pointed. Shutters were added at a later date. The Italianate steeple added in 1885 was repaired in 1990.
Friends Meeting House
Rt. 202 — Gray Road
The second religious society to locate in Windham was the Friends or sometimes called Quakers. In 1774 at a town meeting, it was voted to excuse 8 persons of this Society from paying ministerial taxes. In the early 1880s there were over 40 families in Windham belonging to the Society of Friends.
Their first meetinghouse was at the corner of Swett and Gray Roads near Windham Center and was a small one story building. A two story addition was built that was used as an Academy, perhaps the first school in Windham.
The present meetinghouse was erected in 1849 and has been in constant use since then. Stephen Webb Jr. contracted to build the new meetinghouse for $910. The treasurer was directed to obtain a loan of $300 to aid in building the meetinghouse and the Falmouth Quarterly Meeting paid $210. as their part.
The meetinghouse today still contains some of the old desks and benches from the first structure. There are two main entrance doors and up in the attic a large flywheel is still in place that, by a pulley, lowered a paneled wall separating the men from the women. This is the only religious society in Windham that has sustained a meeting from their first organization to the present time without a suspension of public worship. Their public suppers are legendary.
The Old Quaker Burial Ground is across the street on the corner of Gray Road and Road. Their present Quaker cemetery is north of the meetinghouse on the Gray Road.
South Windham Community Church
Main St., South Windham
The Universalist Meeting House was built in 1840 and dedicated the following year. The frame was raised in three hours and ten minutes, the belfry in two hours. No accidents occurred. The new First Universalist Society church in South Windham was 38 ft wide and 48 ft. long with posts 17 feet high, and members were instructed to “finish the house in such a manner as they in their judgment think proper.” They bought the building lot for $100. The total cost of house and lot was $1,500. Forty-one pews were sold at auction in 1841 for varying amounts.
The first and only church bell in South Windham village was purchased and hung in 1908.
It is one of very few churches designed with the congregation seated facing the entrance of the church. The names of the congregation and those responsible for its building are framed and posted alongside the pulpit in this old church. A 150th anniversary was held in 1990 and today it is known as the South Windham Community Church.
North Windham Little Meeting House
Rt. 302 Roosevelt Trail
The North Windham Union Church was built in 1871-1872 with funds raised by subscription. In 1871 43 residents agreed to contribute $800 to build a Free Meeting House. Erastus Cram, with volunteer help, built the church and it was intended to be used by members of different religious denominations.
In 1914 the Busy Bees a darning group charging 2 cents a meeting was founded. They later became the Ladies Aid.
In 1930 the church became the nondenominational North Windham Union Church. In the 1960s the church became a United Church of Christ. The original steeple was replaced with a new one in 1975.
When a new church was needed to house a larger congregation, this church was scheduled to be torn down. A group of volunteers organized a “rescue” of the church and in 1994 moved it to town owned land beside the new church.
Frances Manchester and her son David formed the Friends of the Little Meeting House, Inc. to save the building. After years of restoration work, mostly done by volunteers, the group has provided a place for small weddings and community meetings. It is now being rented on a regular basis to area groups. The Little Meeting House is one of the few buildings left in North Windham with any historical significance.