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 the History Center. The building is accessible. Light refreshments are often served.

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

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  • The Old Manchester Museum at 126 Cedar Street, open the first Saturday of the month, May through December, and by appointment -- phone 860-647-9983. The research facility is available all year round -- to make an appointment, please phone 860-647-9742.

  • The History Center and museum store 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. Please check to make sure the building is open before coming! 860-647-9983.

  • Tuesday, September 11 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. 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.

  • Sunday, September 16 at 1:00 p.m., "They Called Her Reckless, a True Story of War, Love, and One Extraordinary Horse," -- at the Manchester History Center, 175 Pine Street. Author Janet Barret will tell the story of Reckless, a pony who hauled ammunition up steep hills to the front lines, for two years during the Korean War. This real-life warhorse was courageous and indomitable and stood with her Marine Corps buddies, saving lives, raising spirits, and winning the love and respect of all who knew her. In skirmishes and firefights, and ultimately in the savage Battle for Outpost Vegas, Reckless showed bravery and resilience. In that last bloody fight, surpassing all expectations, she hauled ammunition for three days and nights wherever it was needed. She was promoted to sergeant by the Commander of the Marine First Division, and soon thereafter, sailed for San Francisco, a hero's welcome, and a new life. Copies of the book, signed by the author, will be for sale at this event. $3 for members; $5 for non-members; free for children under 16. Light refreshments will be served. Parking for the event is available along Pleasant Street, off Forest Street (no on-street parking) as well as in a small lot north of the History Center. Pictured is the book cover of Janet's book.

  • Saturday, September 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Open house & outdoor activities with the Building Healthy Families organization 106 Hartford Road. Hayrides, outdoor games, and tours of the Cheney Homestead and Keeney Schoolhouse. For old photos and history of the Homestead on this website, visit Cheney Homestead history.

  • Sunday, September 23 at 1:00 p.m., "Murder in Manchester, the Great Silk Heist" a new play -- at the Manchester History Center, 175 Pine Street -- This dramatic play tells the story of the January 1919 attempted silk heist in Manchester, and the murder of Cheney security chief Bill Madden. Author Walt Scadden wrote this play as well as a book on the topic. The public is invited to this approximately 90-minute program. Local actors will portray Bill Madden, Police Chief Sam Gordon, and other residents in this Manchester drama. $3 for members; $5 for non-members; FREE for veterans and for children under 16. Light refreshments will be served. Parking for the event is available along Pleasant Street, off Forest Street (no on-street parking) as well as in a small lot north of the History Center. Pictured is the book cover of Walt Scadden's book "Murder in Manchester."

  • Sunday, September 23 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m., Open House at the Woodbridge barn and grounds, weather permitting, 495 East Middle Turnpike. Free. Visit the restored eighteenth-century barn and the grounds of the Society's Woodbridge property. The Farmstead is located at Manchester Green, near the intersection of East Middle Turnpike with Woodbridge Street. The barn, located behind (north of) the house, was restored with funds from the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office, the SBM Charitable Foundation, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, and individual donors. Visitors can park at the municipal lot behind the Senior Center, or along the street between the Senior Center and the farmstead itself. From the street, walk to the backyard using the grass driveway between the house and Woodbridge Pizza. The Woodbridge farmstead is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are tour guides to describe the barn, and displays of farm tools and equipment. The farm was donated to the Manchester Historical Society by Ray and Thelma Woodbridge in 1998. Additional open houses on the second and fourth Sundays of the months July through October. For a poster with old and new photos, click Woodbridge barn open house.

  • Sunday, September 30, "Dancing with the Celebrities, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at Cheney Hall, 177 Hartford Road, Manchester. Featuring local celebrities, presenting a special dance with their partners. Instructors courtesy of Arthur Murray Dance Centers of Vernon, Connecticut. Special guest and Mistress of Cermonies, Barbara Cheney, who is an award-winning ballroom dancer. Wine, beer, soda, and water will be available for purchase. Come enjoy the fun and festivity. You can "vote" for your favorite dancer by purchasing $1 tickets. A fun and enjoyable event for all ages. Teacup auction with wonderful local items to bid on. Plus, buy $1 tickets to vote for your favorite dancer! Admission $15 for ages 13 to adult, and $5 for ages 12 and under. Click printable invitation here. Please return form with payment by September 21 to the History Center, 175 Pine St., Manchester, CT 06040 (address and more info also listed on the invitation). Please write "Dancing" on the outside of the envelope (or drop off the form and payment at the History Center, weekdays 10:00 to 2:00.

  • Saturdays during September, "Visiting the Austin Cheney House,” an 85-minute television program about the historic mansion facing Hartford Road, formerly owned by the Shanbaum family, who carefully researched and restored the 1911 building. The TV program tours the house, describes the process of restoration, and includes photos and stories of the former residents. The show airs at 8 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. The television show is produced by Susan Barlow and directed by Kathryn Wilson, both volunteers of the Manchester Historical Society. You can watch some of our television shows online at the Town web site Historical shows on demand. Above right: 1911 photo of the Austin Cheney house. You can watch this month's show on the Public Access website: this month's television show.

  • Friday, October 5 and all October 2018 Fridays from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., campfire storytelling at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Popcorn, cider, and stories around a campfire on the big lawn of the Homestead. Hear colonial and Native American tales, and haunting stories from early America and our area. Stories appropriate for all ages in the first hour, and getting scarier in the second hour as we approach Halloween! Hay bales will be provided for seating; please bring a blanket. Please contact Pete Millett (860-205-5875)if you would like to help with storytelling (stories provided or recommend your own). Rain cancels. See other dates below.

  • Saturday, October 6 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. Some research items are available, such as Town directories; please ask the guide for access to these resources. The museum will be open the first Saturday of the month through December. More about the museum here.

  • Saturday, October 6, the 42nd annual walking tour of the Cheney Historic District with commentary by Dr. Chris Paulin of Manchester Community College, 1:00 p.m. Popular history walk starting at Fuss & O'Neill, 146 Hartford Road (plenty of parking in their lot west of the building). Find out about those huge brick buildings that remain from the days of the world-famous silk mills. Who worked there? Who owned the mills? Where did workers and owners live? This event is co-sponsored by Manchester Community College and the Manchester Historical Society. We’ll see Cheney Hall, the former silk mills, the location of the defunct South Manchester Railroad, the Loom exhibit at the former Cheney machine shop, neighborhoods of worker housing, and Washington School. The walk takes about two hours with a distance of a mile or so. No rain date, so bring umbrellas if weather is iffy. Extreme weather cancels. The walk is free, but donations to the Manchester Historical Society are welcome. The District walking tour began in 1976 under the leadership of Manchester Community College faculty members John Sutherland and Tom Lewis. Chris Paulin has continued the tradition. To view a map of the District on this web site, click Cheney Landmark District. Photo on right: the 2009 walking tour.

  • Sunday, October 7 at 1:00 p.m., walking tour of West Cemetery -- led by Ruth Shapleigh-Brown, founder of the Connecticut Gravestone Network. Save the date. More details to come. Info about Manchester's cemeteries: Cemeteries.

  • Tuesday, October 9 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. 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.

  • Friday, October 12 and all October 2018 Fridays from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., campfire storytelling at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Popcorn, cider, and stories around a campfire on the big lawn of the Homestead. Hear colonial and Native American tales, and haunting stories from early America and our area. Stories appropriate for all ages in the first hour, and getting scarier in the second hour as we approach Halloween! Hay bales will be provided for seating; please bring a blanket. Please contact Pete Millett (860-205-5875) if you would like to help with storytelling (stories provided or recommend your own). Rain cancels. See other dates below.

  • Saturday, October 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Historic House Tour, visiting six houses in Manchester, fundraiser for the Manchester CT Sculpture Project. A fabulous opportunity to see the first floor and grounds of six historic Manchester houses not usually open to the public (two on the Great Lawn, two on Boulder Road, and two in the Lakeview section near the Lutz Museum) and also to support the creation of a bronze sculpture of Joe McCluskey, world-famous runner and native son. Tickets available at Woodland Gardens at 168 Woodland Street, Manchester; E.M. Art & Dougan Framing at 1071 Main Street in Downtown Manchester, Town Hall Customer Service at 41 Center Street, Manchester. $35 in advance. $40 on the tour date -- tickets may be purchased at 50 Forest Street, one of the tour homes. There'll be music and a fabulous silent auction. You can meet Michael Keropian, the sculptor, and see the working clay model of the Joe McCluskey statue. View a house tour poster here.More about the sculpture project: Manchester sculptures. Rain or shine.

  • Sunday, October 14 from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m., Homestead Harvest! At the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Blacksmithing and horseshoeing (farrier) demonstration, open fire camp cooking, hayrides, horseshoe-throwing competition, and other period outdoor activities. Tour the Cheney Homestead and Keeney Schoolhouse and try weaving and rag-rug making. Visit the new Homestead Art Gallery to see beautiful works of art by John and Seth Cheney. Donations welcomed. The 1785 house was donated to the Manchester Historical Society by the Cheney family in 1968 for use as a house museum. Guided tours include history of the building 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.

  • Sunday, October 14 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m., Open House at the Woodbridge barn and grounds, weather permitting, 495 East Middle Turnpike. Free. Visit the restored eighteenth-century barn and the grounds of the Society's Woodbridge property. The Farmstead is located at Manchester Green, near the intersection of East Middle Turnpike with Woodbridge Street. The barn, located behind (north of) the house, was restored with funds from the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office, the SBM Charitable Foundation, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, and individual donors. Visitors can park at the municipal lot behind the Senior Center, or along the street between the Senior Center and the farmstead itself. From the street, walk to the backyard using the grass driveway between the house and Woodbridge Pizza. The Woodbridge farmstead is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are tour guides to describe the barn, and displays of farm tools and equipment. The farm was donated to the Manchester Historical Society by Ray and Thelma Woodbridge in 1998. Open houses are on the second and fourth Sundays of the months July through October. For a poster with old and new photos, click Woodbridge barn open house.

  • Friday, October 19 and all October 2018 Fridays from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., campfire storytelling at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Popcorn, cider, and stories around a campfire on the big lawn of the Homestead. Hear colonial and Native American tales, and haunting stories from early America and our area. Stories appropriate for all ages in the first hour, and getting scarier in the second hour as we approach Halloween! Hay bales will be provided for seating; please bring a blanket. Please contact Pete Millett (860-205-5875) if you would like to help with storytelling (stories provided or recommend your own). Rain cancels. See one more date below.

  • Friday, October 26 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., campfire storytelling at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Popcorn, cider, and stories around a campfire on the big lawn of the Homestead. Hear colonial and Native American tales, and haunting stories from early America and our area. Stories appropriate for all ages in the first hour, and getting scarier in the second hour as we approach Halloween! Hay bales will be provided for seating; please bring a blanket. Please contact Pete Millett (860-205-5875) if you would like to help with storytelling (stories provided or recommend your own). Rain cancels. See other dates below.

  • Sunday, October 28 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m., Open House and "Meet the Woodbridge Family", weather permitting, at the Woodbridge barn and grounds, 495 East Middle Turnpike. Free. Visit the restored eighteenth-century barn and the grounds of the Society's Woodbridge property. The Farmstead is located at Manchester Green, near the intersection of East Middle Turnpike with Woodbridge Street. The barn, located behind (north of) the house, was restored with funds from the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office, the SBM Charitable Foundation, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, and individual donors. Visitors can park at the municipal lot behind the Senior Center, or along the street between the Senior Center and the farmstead itself. From the street, walk to the backyard using the grass driveway between the house and Woodbridge Pizza. The Woodbridge farmstead is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are tour guides to describe the barn, and displays of farm tools and equipment. The farm was donated to the Manchester Historical Society by Ray and Thelma Woodbridge in 1998. For a poster with old and new photos, click Woodbridge barn open house.

  • Saturday, November 3 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 through December. More about the museum here.

  • Sunday, November 4 at 1:00 p.m., "Native Americans" -- program by George Ducharme, award-winning community activist. At the Manchester History Center, 175 Pine Street. Manchester Community College distinguished alumnus and professor, George has been an advocate of inclusivity in the community. $3 for members; $5 for non-members; free for children under 16. Light refreshments will be served. Parking for the event is available along Pleasant Street, off Forest Street (no on-street parking) as well as in a small lot north of the History Center. More details to come.

  • Sunday, November 11 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Open House and at 2:00 p.m. “The Life & Art of John Cheney, 1801-1882”. At the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. The 2:00 p.m. talk will focus on the life of John Cheney, followed by a demonstration and explanation of the art of engraving by an art professor from Manchester Community College. Tour the 1785 homestead and visit the new Homestead Art Gallery to see beautiful works of art by John and Seth Cheney. The 1785 house 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. We plan Open Houses generally on the second Sunday of the month. Donations welcomed for the upkeep of the Homestead.

  • Sunday, November 11 at 1:00 p.m., "Manchester Veterans" program -- at the Manchester History Center, 175 Pine Street -- An opportunity to hear some interesting stories from veterans of Vietnam, Korea, and World War II, as several long-time residents discuss how Manchester influenced their military service, and how their military service affected their subsequent life in Manchester. Veterans are invited to bring a Manchester-connected story to share at the end of the program. $3 for members; $5 for non-members; FREE for veterans and for children under 16. Light refreshments will be served. Parking for the lecture is available along Pleasant Street, off Forest Street (no on-street parking) as well as in a small lot north of the History Center. Pictured are Marine veterans Walt Scadden and Bill Johnson, who will participate in the program.

  • Tuesday, November 13 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. 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.

  • Saturday, December 1 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 through December. More about the museum here.

  • "The Mystique of Silk” exhibit at the History Center, open during regular hours, weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., but please phone 860-647-9983 to double-check if open. 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.