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Giving in Windham

by Peter Griffin

Throughout Windham's history, our community has been the beneficiary of philanthropy. From the first European settlement in 1719 by Scottish immigrants seeking religious freedom, the residents of our rural oasis have contributed to the betterment of the community.

Some of Windham's architectural treasures that are part of our everyday lives were contributed by single individuals or families. The Armstrong Building, formerly the home of the Nesmith Library and now of the Windham Museum, is an example of a donation made by descendants of town founders. Later, in 1909, the Town of Windham received the newly-constructed Searles School and Chapel as a donation from its most eccentric resident, Edward Francis Searles, who also built Searles Castle. Searles School and Chapel was Windham's Schoolhouse No. 1 for many years before becoming home to the Windham Cooperative Kindergarten, and then assuming its current role as an outstanding town social facility. Meanwhile, Searles Castle is maintained by the Sisters of Mercy as an historical landmark. The original "Town Center", a collection of two-hundred-year-old buildings renovated with the help of local businesses and individuals, serves as the Town of Windham's administrative center. Griffin Park, a wonderful athletic and play facility, is a recent example of what can be accomplished when town funding and private fundraising efforts come together.

Some organizations, such as the Windham Woman's Club and the Friends of the Library of Windham, are strongly linked with Windham's history. Other organizations, such as the Windham Rail Trail Alliance, Windham Community Band, and Windham's Helping Hands, were created more recently. Old or new, all of Windham's community organizations combine to make the town what it is today.

Over time, while the style of philanthropy has changed in Windham, the tradition of giving has remained the same. The Windham Endowment for Community Advancement, in partnership with donors and local organizations, seeks to extend and expand on this philanthropic tradition. Please become part of the tradition.