Windham is a village located in Portage County, Ohio, United States. It is formed from portions of Windham Township, one of the original townships of the Connecticut Western Reserve. The population was 2,209 at the 2010 census. In 1942, the US government chose Windham as the site of an army camp for workers at the newly built Ravenna Arsenal. As a result, Windham experienced the largest increase in population of any municipality in the United States between the 1940 and 1950 censuses: The population increased from 316 residents to 3,946.
Windham is part of the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area. Owing to its location, which is slightly closer to Youngstown than Akron and significantly closer to Warren (at away, even closer to Windham than the county seat of Ravenna), the village also positions itself in relation to cities in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Area. Accordingly, the sole bank in Windham holds membership in the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to 1811, the land now comprising the Village and Township of Windham was owned by Caleb Strong, as part of his holdings through the Ohio Company of Associates. On September 11, 1810, a group of sixteen men met in Becket, Massachusetts at the home of Thatcher Conant to discuss the purchase of land in Ohio for settlement. These men, who would be known as the Beckett Land Company, consisted of Conant, Elijah Alford, Nathan Birchard, Gideon Bush, Dillingham Clark, Elisha Clark, Isaac Clark, Benjamin Higley, Aaron P. Jagger, Enos Kingsley, Jeremiah Lyman, Bille Messenger, Ebenezer Messenger, Benjamin C. Perkins, John Seely, and Alpheus Streator.
On November 11, 1810, the Beckett Land Company purchased about from Caleb Strong. The land was divided into 100 lots, and allotted according to each family's investment in the company. Conant, his wife Elizabeth, Dillingham and Abigail Clark, and Alpheus and Anna Streator donated portions of their allotments near the center of the township for a village green, which was common practice for townships in the Connecticut Western Reserve. The group of sixteen families then departed from Massachusetts on May 2, 1811. Six weeks later, they arrived in the purchased survey township, which was located immediately south of Nelson Township in the Connecticut Western Reserve. This new township, known today as Windham Township, was survey town 4 in range 6 of the Western Reserve.
The first religious service in the new township was held on July 28, 1811, in the home of one of the settlers. This service was very likely Congregationalist, as several of the families belonged to the Congregational Church in Becket, Massachusetts. The Congregational Church eventually constructed a building on the Green, and today that church still remains on the Green as a member church of the United Church of Christ.
The Windham Historical Society notes that the township was originally named Strongsburg, however, some sources cite the original name as Strongsburgh. The namesake was original landowner Caleb Strong, who was by then the Governor of Massachusetts. There is some discrepancy in how this township came to be known as Windham. According to the Windham Historical Society, the name of the township "was changed to Sharon, by an act of legislature in about 1820…. A few years later the name was again changed to Windham, which it has remained to present." The Historical Society also cites political concerns as the reason the name was changed from Strongsburg to Sharon. However, on Windham Township's website, March 2, 1813 is cited as the date on which "the Township was made a district by itself and the name was changed to 'Sharon'." The website goes on to state that in 1820, by an act of legislature, the name was changed again to Windham. Yet another source, The Ohio Gazetteer, and Travelers's Guide, states that the name was changed from Sharon to Windham in January, 1829. Still another source places these dates as 1817 and 1820, respectively. Common to most sources are a few claims which reasonably can be ascertained to be fact:
A private academy was chartered in Windham on February 19, 1835. Windham Academy was the 44th to be chartered by Ohio. This school closed in 1853, and was replaced by a second, short-lived private school in the 1860s. Windham High School was founded in 1883, across the street from the present school building.
The Village of Windham was incorporated in 1892, and on October 12, 1993 the village officially withdrew from Windham Township.
In 1940, the United States Department of the Army reserved in eastern Portage County for the construction of two facilities One of these was the Portage Ordnance Depot, which with its twin facility the Ravenna Ordnance Plant became known as the Ravenna Arsenal. Over 14,000 people were employed at the Arsenal during World War II, and the village of Windham was chosen as the site to house many of these workers. Windham experienced a population boom as a result; its growth of over 1100% was the largest of any U.S. municipality in the 1950 Census, as was reported in the June 1951 edition of National Geographic Magazine.