The Historical Society... Our beginnings
In 1965, a small group of concerned citizens 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.
Now, decades later, 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, and Sunday lectures; 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, restored by volunteers and business donors. The museum opened in 1985 and has three floors of collections, as well as a research facility.
What we do...
Our volunteers are the core of the Society, and they do many tasks. For example, volunteers accession newly donated items, staff events such as our open houses and tag sales, design and set up exhibits, give museum tours, and help visitors with genealogy and historic house research.
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 work with the town on "Heritage Day" tours each June, and conduct walking tours throughout the town. Tours have included Highland Park, Buckland, "Hollywood," Hudson Street, Boulder Road, Union Village (the North End), The Cheney Railroad, Hackmatack Street, the Town Center, and Forest Street. History hikes have included Oak Grove Nature Center, Union Pond, Hilliardville, Adams Mill, Salter's Pond, and Laurel Marsh.
The Historical Society presents programs throughout the year on various topics, such as The Manchester Road Race, Spencer Repeating Rifles, Shaker Village, The South Manchester Railroad, grave stones, colonial days, quilts, Pitkin glass, the Firemen's Museum, New England Stone Walls, Apel's Opera House, and Growing Tobacco in Manchester.
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.
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.
Our newsletter The Courier, published quarterly, includes Society news, future events, and items of interest from the past. To read our newsletter, click here Newsletters.
The Historical Society has also published four soft-bound books: 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."
We have also published these booklets: "East Cemetery Historical Walking Tour," which describes interesting gravestones and stories in the old part of East Cemetery; "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 here
REPRINTS, and they are a wonderful 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.
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.