There are certain buildings in Windham that are seen by locals as notable points of interests and the Old Grocery at the corner of Windham Center Road and Route 202 is one of them. The single-story 30-by-50 foot structure was constructed in the early 1800s and was purchased by Windham resident William Goold in 1838, who then opened it as a tailor shop.
Goold was always intrigued by history and enjoyed salvaging materials from old buildings that were about to be demolished. He would often purchase interesting pieces and repurpose them. The carved ornamental trim on the front of the building was once a part of St. Paul’s Church in Portland before Goold added it to his shop as a decorative feature.
Goold sold the store to Alley Hawkes in 1845 and it was then converted into a grain store, a cobbler shop, and finally a grocery store. The business remained in the Hawkes family for over 100 years and for three generations.
For decades, the Old Grocery was a gathering place for town people and a hub for political conversations. It is said that the Old Grocery and the Hawkes Grocery across the street (now Corsetti’s) were favorite spots for people of opposing political points of view. One was frequented by avid Democrats and the other by zealous Republicans, so the story goes.
The Hawkes family sold the store in 1956 and the building was deeded to the Cross Roads Garden Club. In 1996, it became the property of the Windham Historical Society.
Today, the building contains many historic items from the Grocery’s past. A nice collection of children’s shoes, an egg crate owned by Fred Hawkes and a grain scale are just some of the treasures housed inside. The old Windham Town Hearse is another interesting artifact stored in the antique building.
It is the hope of the Windham Historical Society to eventually move the Old Grocery across Route 202 to the society’s Village Green as part of a living history museum. The estimated cost for the move is $30,000 and donations are welcome. The Society currently does tours of the Old Grocery by appointment. For more information about making an appointment or a donation, contact the Windham Historical Society at 207-892-1433.
Haley Pal is a Windham resident and an active member of the Windham Historical Society.
The Old Grocery was a favorite meeting place for town residents and a hub for spirited political discussions.
The Old Grocery is located across the street from current day Corsetti’s on Windham Center Road.