Sawyer’s Store was once the waiting room for people taking the trolley to Westbrook or Portland. Contributed / Windham Historical Society

Sawyer’s Store opened its doors in 1910. South Windham was a much different place in those days. There was a pulp mill and a woolen mill in town, both working at full capacity. L.C. Andrew was a major enterprise on Depot Street. The business employed many locals and goods produced there were shipped all over the country in railroad cars. The depot was located right across from their bustling factory.

The area, often referred to as Little Falls, also had a doctor’s office, grocery stores, a drugstore, a barber shop, an undertaker and many other small retail establishments. Oriental Hall was used for community gatherings, school plays and pageants.

Cora Sawyer’s shop was actually situated on the Gorham side of Little Falls, but just the same, it was a favorite place of the South Windham customers who lived just across the river over the bridge. It was best known at that time for being a waiting room for the trolley that stopped there on its way to Westbrook and Portland. There was a large settee in the waiting room, or, if passengers had time to kill, they would often browse through the store for bargains. Sawyer’s sold items of all kinds, including fresh local produce during the growing season and Christmas gifts over the holidays. Many enjoyed picking up an ice cream cone to enjoy while they waited. Others preferred a sandwich or a fresh bag of roasted peanuts for which Sawyer’s had become famous.

Haley Pal, a Windham resident and active member of the Windham Historical Society, can be contacted at

The trolley stopped running in 1928, but Sawyer’s still remained one of South Windham’s favorite places to shop and congregate while catching up on local news and gossip. School kids might stop in for some penny candy as an afternoon snack. High school students would come in for treats after the big game.

When Cora retired as proprietor of the store, her son Hall took over the reins. He ran the business until the mid 1950s when his son Hall Jr. stepped in. Under his watch, an addition was built and new merchandise was added, increasing the popularity of the establishment. You could pick up just about anything there. A sign on the front of the building advertised pipes, clocks and watches, popcorn and Tintex, a type of fabric dye popular at the time. In addition, fresh and canned vegetables, dry goods, clothing, candy, even homemade jams were all available at Sawyer’s.

By the time of its closing in 2017 after being in business for over 100 years, Hall Jr.’s children Kelly Finocchietti and her brother Craig Sawyer were in charge. Kelly had been working in the store for 20 years by this time and began to realize that it was getting harder and harder to run a “mom and pop” business. Vendors had begun requiring minimum orders that were more than the small store needed and there had been a large drop in the number of people coming in to shop. It was a hard decision, but on Jan. 3, 2017, the door to Sawyer’s Store was locked for the last time. Another one of Windham’s most famous icons was gone. Sawyer’s Store still remains vacant after six years. Hopefully, one day another business will open there and thrive.

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