Walking Tours, Lectures, Fundraisers, and Other Activities

Lectures usually take place at the Manchester History Center at 175 Pine Street. Parking is available along Pleasant Street and along Forest Street next to the building; parking for people with disabilities is available in the small lot next to (north of) the History Center. The building is accessible. Light refreshments are often served.

The costs for lectures and walking tours varies; some events are free; many of our walks are free for children under 16 accompanied by parents or other adults. Donations are always welcome.

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  • Art & Artisan Crafts at the Cheney Homestead 106 Hartford Road. Following the artistic traditions of the Cheney family, the Cheney Homestead will offer ongoing art classes for children and adults beginning in July 2019. For class descriptions and registration: Cheney Homestead Arts.

  • The Old Manchester Museum at 126 Cedar Street, open the first Saturday of the month, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. May through December, except holidays; closed January through April, while we work on our new exhibits. It is also open by appointment; the research facility is available all year round by appointment -- phone 860-647-9742.

  • The History Center and museum store, open Tuesday to Friday 10:00 to 2:00, are located in the former Cheney Machine Shop, 175 Pine Street at the corner of Forest Street -- where you can purchase local-history items such as books on local history, copies of vintage maps, Kage company plastic decorations, Manchester Herald cookbooks, t-shirts with historic scenes of Manchester, copies of high school yearbooks, vintage business directories, mugs, notecards, and limited-edition ceramic tree ornaments with images of Cheney Homestead and other landmarks. There is also a study area where visitors can conduct research by browsing through old Manchester directories, surveys, high school yearbooks, and booklets. There's an exhibit of the Russell barber shop, with barber pole, and vintage barbering tools and furniture, as well as a standing exhibit about Cheney silks. Questions: 860-647-9983.

  • Board meetings of the Historical Society are held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at the History Center, 175 Pine Street (except July and August meetings, held at the Old Manchester Museum, 126 Cedar Street, which has better air conditioning!). Members are welcome to attend and may speak or ask questions at the beginning of the meeting. Questions may be directed to 860-647-9983.


  • Thursday, November 21, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., Movie Night at the History Center, 175 Pine Street. In homage to the upcoming Victorian/Steampunk holiday Steampunk event at the History Center on December 7 (see listing, below), we will show a 1954 classic motion picture adapted from one of Jules Verne’s futuristic Victorian novels, with Kirk Douglas as the intrepid harpooner and James Mason as the mysterious Captain Nemo, doing battle on sea and land in this colorful, marvel-filled underseas adventure. Often dubbed “Steampunk Disney,” this live-action film is a precursor to the current Steampunk culture that blends the Victorian era with a futuristic depiction of the marvels anticipated and imagined by the Industrial Revolution. Hosts David Garnes and Peter Millett. Suggested donation $2 per person; $5 per family of 3 or more. Refreshments available for purchase.

  • Saturday, November 23, Special for Society members and their guests: Tour of Thrall Hall, East Windsor at 11:00 a.m. -- an invitation from UConn engineering professor Howard Epstein to tour this unique building with its owners, Doug and Janett Moore. The dance hall (and its controversies over the years) has been featured on NPR, the Connecticut Historical Society, and Connecticut Museum Quest, CTMQ, which provides virtual tours of Connecticut museums, and whose author, Stephen Wood, we thank for the photo of Thrall Hall on the left. Professor Epstein has been involved with the building for years -- facilitating UConn student projects and advising the current owners. Meet opposite 145 Chamberlain Road, East Windsor, and dress warmly. Free, no registration needed. Questions: Peter Millett, 860-205-5875.

  • Saturdays during November, "Russell's Barber Shop,” a 48-minute television show that visits the former barber shop on Spruce Street, where Russell Inzinga talks about his sixty-six years as a barber, the changes in the neighborhood, and his enjoyment of his work. The show was filmed in April 2015, shortly before Russell retired, closed the barber shop, and sold the building. Russell says, "During the 1960s, long hair became popular so business declined. Sometimes a customer would wait a year and then come in with very long hair. During the 1970s, hair became a bit shorter, but was still kept full. Ultimately, close cut styles such as military high-and-tight done with clippers came into fashion. My aim was to please each customer." The show airs at 12:00 noon and 8:00 p.m. on Cox cable channel 15 on Saturdays, and runs on all the Saturdays of the month. The show changes each month. This Channel 15 broadcasts in Manchester, Glastonbury, South Windsor, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, and Newington. Some previous local-history shows can be borrowed at Mary Cheney Library, or purchased at the Historical Society Museum Store. The television show is produced by Susan Barlow, directed by Kathryn Wilson, researched by Jill Gelinas, all volunteers of the Manchester Historical Society. You can watch some of our previous television shows online at the Town website Historical shows on demand. You can watch this month's show on the Public Access website "Russell's Barber Shop" show on Public Access TV.

  • Saturday, December 7, "Bah Humbug Hullabaloo," from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the History Center, 175 Pine Street. Futuristic Victorian/Steampunk Holiday Celebration, hosted by Oddball Newt, with fun for the whole family. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Historical Society. Host "Oddball Newt" welcomes attendees to join him in a traditional retro-futuristic holiday celebration! It'll be a night of merriment and Manchester history, with live music, caroling, tree decorating contest, panel presentations, a photo-booth, and an artisan marketplace. The Eternal Frontier, Manchester's Town Troubadour Bill Ludwig, and The Silk City Chorus perform. Dressing up in Steampunk or Victorian is preferred but optional. Cheese and crackers served; cash bar. Tickets: $15 early online; $20 at the door; $10 for children, teens, senior citizens, and Historical Society members. Purchase tickets online: early-bird tickets online here. More info about the event.

  • Saturday, December 7 from 11:00 to 3:00 p.m., Homestead Holiday Open House, 106 Hartford Road -- decorated for the holidays by the Manchester Garden Club in both traditional and creative interpretations of seasonal decor. Tour this early American home, including the recently opened Homestead Art Gallery and be inspired by Manchester's rich history in art. The 1785 homestead was donated to the Manchester Historical Society by the Cheney family in 1968 for use as a house museum. As with many New England homesteads, the house is built into a hill, with doors opening out to the yard on both the upper and lower levels. For old photos and history of the Homestead on this website, visit Cheney Homestead history. Free; donations welcome.

  • Saturday, December 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Old Manchester Museum open, 126 Cedar Street. Visit the former Cheney School, built in 1859, and view permanent exhibits, maps, school information. The Manchester Sports Hall of Fame is located in this building. Guides will be available to answer questions. Parking along the (one-way) street, or in the lot at the corner of Cedar and Cooper Hill Streets, right next to the museum. A small museum shop is open, with books and maps about local history. The museum will be open the first Saturday of the month. More about the museum here.

  • Sunday, December 8 Please note, closed today due to the Saturday open house. Ordinarily open from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on the second Sunday of the month. The Open House at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road, invites you to visit this early American home, including the recently opened Homestead Art Gallery and be inspired by Manchester's rich history in art. Tour the 1785 Homesteadwhich was donated to the Manchester Historical Society by the Cheney family in 1968 for use as a house museum. Guided tours include the 1751 Keeney Schoolhouse, history of the Homestead and its contents, and of the family who lived there. As with many New England homesteads, the house is built into a hill, with doors opening out to the yard on both the upper and lower levels. For old photos and history of the Homestead on this website, visit Cheney Homestead history. We plan Open Houses generally on the second Sunday of the month.Free. Donations welcomed for the upkeep of the Homestead.

  • Friday, December 13 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Traditional reading of Charles Dickens's "Christmas Carol" at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Immerse yourself in this classic 1843 story of Ebenezer Scrooge in a traditional, lightly dramatized fireside reading at the 1785 Cheney Homestead; including refreshments and period carol singing. All are welcome! Suggested donation $5.

  • Sunday, December 15 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., "Holly and Ivy Gala" and fundraiser from at the History Center, 175 Pine Street. All welcome to this holiday celebration, a festive cocktail party with hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer, a signature cocktail, soft drinks, Christmas cookies, and coffee bar, included in the $45 per person admission donation. Silent auction items include gift certificates to Labyrinth Brewery and Little Theater of Manchester. As you mingle with friends old and new, music will stream from our player piano. And, oh, some fun surprises! Dust off your holiday finery and join us for a joyous celebration. Reserve early – limited to 150 guests. $45.00 per person. Click for a printable invitation and additional details. Deadline is December 6. You can mail in the form with your check, or drop by the History Center on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10:00 to 2:00 to pay by cash, check, or credit card. Parking available along Pleasant Street, off Forest Street, and in the small lot north of the building.

  • Thursday, December 19, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., Movie Night at the History Center, 175 Pine Street. A guided tour of Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday classic film starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore. Through selected clips, we will explore themes and truths that make this movie a timeless commentary on the human condition, we will discuss an interesting parallel to Manchester as a multi-ethnic mill town struggling through the Great Depression and World War II. Hosts David Garnes and Peter Millett. Suggested donation $2 per person; $5 per family of 3 or more. Refreshments available for purchase.

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. History Walk featuring the "Great Lawn" starting at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Park at Fuss & O'Neill, 146 Hartford Road, Manchester. This one-and-a-quarter-hour walk will proceed along streets and lawn to view historic mansions and the nine-acre property purchased by the Town in 2005 for open space and historic preservation. Historical Society members Tom Ferguson and Susan Barlow will comment on the historic landscape and buildings. There is some steep and uneven ground, so participants should wear sturdy shoes or boots. Extreme weather cancels, but the walk will be held in light rain or snow flurries, so please bring an umbrella. $10 for non-members, $7 for members, and free for children under age 16. Photo on left is a postcard of Hartford Road before 1910 -- that's the old Cheney office building (the "new" one, location of Fuss & O'Neill, was built in 1910). For a map and vintage photos of the District on our web site, visit Cheney map. The Cheney silk mills were Manchester's largest employer in the early part of the 20th century. Please check weather forecast and dress for the conditions!

  • Sunday, January 12 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Open House at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Tradtional crafts for all as you visit this early American home, including the recently opened Homestead Art Gallery and be inspired by Manchester's rich history in art. Tour the 1785 Homesteadwhich was donated to the Manchester Historical Society by the Cheney family in 1968 for use as a house museum. Guided tours include the 1751 Keeney Schoolhouse, history of the Homestead and its contents, and of the family who lived there. As with many New England homesteads, the house is built into a hill, with doors opening out to the yard on both the upper and lower levels. For old photos and history of the Homestead on this website, visit Cheney Homestead history. We plan Open Houses generally on the second Sunday of the month. Donations welcomed for the upkeep of the Homestead.

  • Tuesday, January 14 at 10:00 a.m., the Historical Society's Genealogy Group -- a meeting for both amateur and more experienced genealogists, as we explore topics in genealogy, helping each other with research and in overcoming roadblocks. Topic to be announced. Meet at the Manchester History Center, 175 Pine Street. The Genealogy Group consists of Historical Society members, but non-members are also welcome ($3.00 fee for non-members). The group usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month, except December, July, August. Visit Genealogy Page to find out more about the group, contact the coordinators, or read information about previous meetings and presentations.

  • "The Mystique of Silk” exhibit at the History Center, open during regular hours. This exhibit was created by the Cheney Cemetery Association's President, Carol Cheney, great-granddaughter of Knight Dexter Cheney, President of Cheneys from 1894 to 1907. Carol describes the exhibit as commemorating "the 100th anniversary of the Cheney Cemetery Association in 2016, and the enduring Cheney Family legacy of innovation and good will. The family expresses deep gratitude to the generations of Cheney Brothers employees whose dedicated service helped build the Town of Manchester." "Design, advertising, and sales of Cheney silks were handled at the company’s New York offices. Much can be learned about the Cheney Brothers brand from their advertisements in high-end magazines of the day. These ads emphasized life style and corporate image over product details." The framed ads in the exhibit are from Carol Cheney's collection. These stunning advertisements for Cheney silks were displayed at MCC On Main during June 2016. Additional information about the exhibit, written by Carol Cheney, describes "the aura of elegance and luxury" that these Cheney advertisements emphasized.


    The Old Manchester Museum's research facility at 126 Cedar Street is open year 'round. Please phone the curator at 860-647-9742 to make an appointment to conduct research.