In the summer of 1938, Windham held Old Home Week, to celebrate the 200th birthday of the town. The date was a little off, but everyone celebrated anyway.

During the last week of July that year, the town was filled with activities for all to enjoy. A small booklet was published that described such events as how the town got “public” water, the consolidation of the schools, history of the reformatory – today known as the Maine Correctional Center – the gunpowder mill and the Cumberland-Oxford Canal.

The first event was the placing of markers on historical spots throughout the town – and there were many of them. Signs went up on schools, town buildings, all the bridges and at designated historical sites such as places where early settlers lived, were captured by Indians and where buildings were once located.

Townspeople got together on Monday of that week at the site of the former fort on River Road to hear dedication remarks from town leaders.

Thursday was Firemen’s Field Day with dedication of the South Windham Fire Station, a parade, dinner at Oriental Hall in South Windham, a ball game in Windham Center. And, in the evening, a dance was held at the high school (now town hall).

Friday was dedicated to sightseeing around town and the school buses toured the town with guides describing all the historic places that had been marked with appropriate signs. Friday evening a historical pageant was held with a 10-cent admission charge. Townspeople played the parts of early settlers and portrayed historic activities.

Other events during the week included public suppers at the Grange Hall and at North Windham Community House, and special commemorative church services.

On Saturday, parades filled with floats and music were held in North Windham, South Windham and the Center. The evening ended with a “grand ball” at the high school.

White metal signs with black letters were placed at the site of the first mill, the province (of Massachusetts) fort, the site of the slaying of Indian Chief Polin, the Parson Smith House, birthplace of John Andrew, sites of first settler Thomas Chute’s cellar, Stephen Manchester’s cellar, second building of the church, first and second sites of the Joe Knight capture, the Joe Weir house, site of the first schoolhouse, the Lot No. 1 site, all the schools, all churches, all bridges and rivers, town house, Pettengill homestead (we’re still trying to find that site), place where inkhorn was lost and the Indian camp at White’s Bridge.

Many signs have disappeared, but some are still in place. Others have been found and delivered to the Windham Historical Society. Most of them are extremely rusted and bent. A society member, Ray Philpot, has refurbished these historic markers and they are on display at the history museum in Windham Center.

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