Timothy Cheney, farmer, miller and one of America's famous clock makers, built the Cheney Homestead about 1785. A brook to the south of the home afforded water for the grist mill which he operated with his son George.
On October 25, 1798, George Cheney brought his bride, Electa Woodbridge Cheney, to the Homestead to "keep house". To the couple were born eight sons and one daughter. With the exception of George Wells who had died, and Seth and John who became well-known artists, the brothers joined in establishing the Mt. Nebo Silk Company. The firm later incorporated as Cheney Brothers and became world famous as a leader in the silk industry.
In the Homestead, the downstairs living room was originally a pine-paneled keeping room with a massive fireplace and Dutch oven. The entrance door is extra wide so "hogsheads could be rolled into the buttery at the rear." A unique feature of this room is the built-in wall clock. When a door from the southeast room was cut into the stairway, it was necessary to remove the clockworks. A picture of Lake Pepin by Seth Cheney replaces theface. The tall clock in this room is an example of Timothy's work and is labeled.
To the east is a study which was originally an 8½ x 12½ ft. bedroom in which the children of George and Electa were born. Seth Cheney, who traveled and studied extensively abroad, came home one summer and enlarged this room for his mother, doing all the work himself.
An addition to the original house to the west provided a dormitory for the boys, now furnished as a dining room. Here are to be seen a set of Chippendale-style chairs which are attributed to Eliphalet Chapin of East Windsor.
As the Homestead is set into a hillside, the "second floor" is also on ground level with the "front" door of the paneled parlor facing east. An early 19th century chaise lounge with Chippendale back, a cage-top tilt table and a secretary with candle slides are features to look for. To the south of the stairs is one of the guest bedrooms and to the west of the parlor is a second bedroom.
Originally a bedroom, the last room to be added to the home has been furnished as a nursery with a spindle crib and a late 19th century doll house, all used by Cheney families.
Much of the fine 18th Century furniture was acquired in Philadelphia by John Cheney, the brother who was a famous engraver. Numerous drawings by Seth as well as etchings and engravings are to be seen throughout the home.
The Cheney Homestead at 106 Hartford Road, Manchester, Connecticut (860-647-9983), is owned and operated by the Historical
Society. Open 1 to 4 the second Sunday of each month except holidays, and also by appointment and for special events.
For additional historical information on the Cheney Homestead, please click here to read an article in the "Reprints" section of this web site.