The Historical Society... Our beginnings

In 1965, a small group of concerned residents incorporated the Manchester Historical Society. Their original purpose was to save the historic Timothy Cheney house on East Center Street from destruction. They dedicated themselves to implementing the resolutions of incorporation: to preserve "irreplaceable historic Manchester landmarks and act as a watchdog group" to save valued antiquities.

We continue to advocate for preservation, while also educating the public -- adults and children -- about Manchester's history. The Society manages The History Center, 175 Pine Street driving directions, site of our administrative offices, special events, Sunday lectures, and exhibits; the Cheney Homestead at 106 Hartford Road driving directions, given to our society through a gracious bequest of the Cheney family in 1969; the Keeney Schoolhouse next to the Homestead; and the Old Manchester Museum at 126 Cedar Street driving directions, the former Cheney School building, owned by the Town of Manchester, and restored by volunteers and business donors. The museum opened in 1985 and has three floors of collections, as well as a research facility. The Society manages the Woodbridge Farmstead at Manchester Green, a gift of the Woodbridge family; and a Cheney storage vault near the former South Manchester Railroad.

What we do...

Volunteers

Our volunteers are the core of the Society, and they do many tasks. For example, volunteers staff events such as our open houses, design and set up exhibits, give museum tours, accession donated items,and help visitors with genealogy and historic house research.

Tours and programs

In addition to tours for school children, we co-sponsor a walking tour of the Cheney Mills area, which is a part of the Cheney Brothers National Historic Landmark District. We conduct occasional walking tours throughout the town. We present lectures, open houses, and occasional teas and holiday galas. For details, see the Events page on this website at Upcoming Events.

House Markers

For houses more than 50 years old, homeowners can purchase a plaque. Upon the homeowner's submission of a fee and evidence of the age of the house, the Society will provide a plaque showing the year the house was built. The plaque is suitable for mounting on the exterior of the house. You can access the application form online by clicking House Marker.

Advisory

The Historical Society acts as an advisor to the Cheney Brothers National Historic District Commission and the town in cases affecting the preservation or demolition of older buildings.

Publications

Our newsletter The Courier, published quarterly, includes Society news, events, and items of interest from the past. To read our newsletter, click here Newsletters.

Our free e-newsletter arrives via email, with updates on events, history tidbits, resources for researchers and genealogists. To receive, click Subscribe to email newsletter.

The Historical Society has published: Old Manchester... A Picture Book, debuted in 1994 with more than 400 photos from Manchester's past and has sold over 3,000 copies; Old Manchester II... The Storytellers, published in 1995, a collection of anecdotes and stories about life in Manchester from over 80 writers. More than 1,000 present and former residents are mentioned in this 272-page volume. In 1996 we published "Silk And Guns: The Life of a Connecticut Yankee: Frank Cheney (1817-1904)," written by his great-granddaughter, Alice Farley Williams. This 203-page illustrated book has 275 names and places from Manchester's past, as well as insights into the Cheney family, their affectionate regard for Manchester, and their impact on Manchester's history. "Old Manchester III...Manchester Green" was published in 1997 and contains pictures and maps of the eastern part of Manchester, known as "The Green." Booklets include: "East Cemetery Historical Walking Tour," "From Warsaw to Manchester, Talking with Helen Kopman;" "Vet Haven and Related Tales, Manchester Veterans Return from World War II;" "Customs and Incidents of Early Days in Manchester."

Our on-line publications, reprinted from contemporary and historic sources, are available by clicking REPRINTS, and they are a source of information about Manchester and Connecticut history.


Our Mission...

The Manchester Historical Society educates the public about the history of Manchester, Connecticut; collects, preserves, interprets, and exhibits information and artifacts about the town and its diverse population, and advocates for the preservation of significant historic resources.

Our Vision...

The Manchester Historical Society will be the premier resource for information about the history and heritage of Manchester, Connecticut that includes the Native American culture and the growth of the agricultural, industrial and suburban communities of the Northeast. It will attract visitors of all ages from around the country to its exhibitions and programs. Its efforts will reflect the diversity of the community and will remain connected to the community.



Officers (2021-2022)
 
President: John Prior, III
Vice President: Rae Strickland
Treasurer: Gerhard Voggel
Secretary: Carol Cafazzo
 
   
Board of Directors
(2021-2022)
 
Dan Kimball
Peter Millett
Stephen Penny
Dr. Deborah Simmons
   

Directors Emeriti
 
Susan Barlow
George Beauregard
Douglas Edwards
Theresa Parla
David K. Smith
Joe Sobanski
Vivian Ferguson (1925-2017)

Main phone number 860-647-9983.
To contact us: General contact information.