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.
Click here for
information on becoming a member!
1st Saturday of each month, May through December, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Open house at the Old Manchester Museum, 126 Cedar Street. Drop by any time for a visit! The former Cheney School, built in 1859, houses a WWII 75th anniversary exhibit, as well as permanent exhibits, maps, school information. The Manchester Sports Hall of Fame is located in this building. Hosts Bob Kanehl and Art Pongratz can help answer local-history questions, and there's a museum shop to browse -- books and maps about local history, as well as gifts for yourself or others. Free admission, donations welcome. Masks and social distancing required. More about the museum here.
2nd Sunday of each month, from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m., Open House at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Featuring on Sunday, July 11, "Threads and Strings" with participatory weaving demonstrations and live music. We are requesting a $5 donation ($10 per family) for this special event, collaborating with the Hartford Artisans Guild. More about the July 11 activities: Threads and Strings. The afternoon includes tours of the historic property, including grounds, gardens, and inside at the Homestead and its art gallery where you will 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. 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 always welcomed for the upkeep of the Homestead. Masks and social distancing required, based on current guidelines.
2nd & 4th Sunday of the month, May to October, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m., open house at the Woodbridge Farmstead, 495 East Middle Turnpike. Free. Games, treats, activities. Visit the restored eighteenth-century barn, the first floor rooms in the 1830s house, and the grounds of this historic 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, in the lot behind the barns, 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. Tour guides will 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. Each Sunday offers various activities and entertainment for young and old. Masks and social distancing required.
Saturdays during October, "Joe McCluskey Statue Dedication,” a 52-minute television show recorded on November 10, 2019, at the unveiling of the sculpture of Joe McCluskey, Manchester runner and Olympic steeplechase champion, with speeches by the sculptor, Joe's family, Mayor Moran, and members of the Road Race committee. Town Troubadour Bill Ludwig and friends sang an original song about Joe. 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 "Statue Dedication" TV Show on Public Access TV.
OF INTEREST, but not sponsored by the Historical Society: Saturday, October 9, the 46th annual walking tour of the Cheney Historic District with commentary by Dr. Christopher Paulin of Manchester Community College, 1:00 p.m. Popular history walk starting at Fuss & O'Neill, 146 Hartford Road (plenty of parking in the lots west and south 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 Cheney District commission. We’ll see Cheney Hall, the former silk mills, the location of the former South Manchester Railroad, 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. The District walking tour began in 1976 under the leadership of Manchester Community College faculty members John Sutherland and the late Tom Lewis. Christopher Paulin has continued the tradition. To view a map of the District on this website, click Cheney Landmark District. Photo on right: the 2009 walking tour.
Art classes at the History Center enter at 199 Forest Street. Following the artistic traditions of
the Cheney family, classes for children and adults began in July
2019. For class descriptions and registration: Cheney Homestead Arts.
Sunday, December 5 at 1:00 p.m., "Remembering Pearl Harbor" -- a lecture on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Manchester's reaction to the U.S. entrance into World War II. Former State Senator Mary Ann Handley will present this informative talk. A retired Manchester Community College history professor, Mary Ann has conducted research on this topic, and at the lecture will establish a foundation for understanding the conflicts and issues of this period in American and local history. Musicians Sandy Johnson and Dan Thompson will present music from the World War II era. At the History Center, 175 Pine Street. The public is invited. Parking for the lecture is available along Pleasant Street, off Forest Street (no on-street parking) as well as in a small lot next to the History Center. $5 for non-members, $3 for Society members, and free for children under age 16.
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 November except holidays; closed December through April. 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, Temporarily closed; will re-open after construction for our usual hours: Tuesday to Friday 10:00 to 2:00. Our offices are located in the former Cheney Machine Shop, 175 Pine Street at the corner of Forest Street -- our musueum store sells 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'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.
The Historical Society requires pandemic social-distancing and face masks.
"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.