Walking Tours, Lectures, Fundraisers, and Other Activities

Lectures 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. 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!

  • Open Wednesday through Friday 10:00 to 2:00 and Saturdays from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m., "Then and Now" at the History Center, 175 Pine Street. The Manchester Historical Society received a $4999 grant from Connecticut Humanities (CTH) to create the exhibit, which showcases the history of Manchester from pre-Colonial times to the present, and illustrates Manchester’s contributions to the arts and industry. The exhibit tells the story of how people from around the globe and from diverse backgrounds came to call Manchester home. The goal of this exhibit is to illustrate how Manchester’s past relates to the present day. Visitors will be invited to consider how today's choices can shape the future. The Society is grateful to the CTH and our private donors for supporting this professionally designed and installed exhibit. Free.

  • Saturdays during October, "Cheney Hall,” a 40-minute television show that describes this magnificent building through illustrations and stories. Cheney Hall, built in the French Second Empire style, was designed by architect C. H. Hammatt Billings. It was dedicated in 1867 and served as a community hall and location for concerts, lectures, rallies, and plays. It fell into disrepair in the 1970s, but underwent a renovation that saved its life and brought it back to its current welcoming and accessible building, busy with activities year 'round, and a local and regional attraction. . Read more about Cheney Hall at "Places to Visit" on our website The TV show runs on Channel 15 at noon and 8:00 p.m. on all the Saturdays of the month; the show changes each month. It is produced by Historical Society volunteers. 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. You can watch this month's show right now on your computer, through the Public Access website "Cheney Hall" show.

  • Open the 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 for a visit of 10 minutes or 4 hours! The former Cheney School, built in 1859, houses permanent and special 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. More about the museum here.

  • OF INTEREST, but sponsored by Manchester Rotary Club: Saturday, October 1, "Rotary in Motion" starting at 9:45 at Charter Oak Park, Manchester, with bike rides and a history tour of the park, Hartford Road, and East Coast Greenway, with commentary by Town Historian Susan Barlow. Meet at the pavilion in the park -- plenty of parking. Two to three miles, depending on the weather. Register with Rotary to receive a bracelet and snacks. The walk starts at 10:00. To view a map of the District on this website, click Cheney Landmark District.

  • Saturday, October 1 and the 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 for a visit of 10 minutes or 4 hours! The former Cheney School, built in 1859, houses permanent and special 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. More about the museum here.

  • OF INTEREST, but not sponsored by the Historical Society: Saturday, October 8, the 47th 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 Brothers National Historic 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.

  • Sunday, October 9 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m., open house and pumpkin festival at the Woodbridge Farmstead, 495 East Middle Turnpike. Free, donations welcome. There will be a “guess a pumpkin's weight” contest, join a pumpkin hunt, or paint a pumpkin. Prizes will be given. We will be celebrating with apple cider and pumpkin donuts. Visit the farmstead, 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 Raymond and Thelma Woodbridge in 1998. Additional open houses on the second and fourth Sundays of the months through October. For a poster with old and new photos, click Woodbridge open house.

  • Sunday, October 9, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., open house at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. . The afternoon includes tours of the historic property, including grounds, gardens, and inside at the Homestead and its new Women of the Homestead exhibit, and 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. Suggested $5 donation for the upkeep of the Homestead. Masks and social distancing may be required, based on current guidelines.

  • OF INTEREST, but not sponsored by the Historical Society: Saturday, October 15, house tour of six historic homes, a fundraiser for The Sculpture Project. Three of the houses are Cheney mansions on the Great Lawn, not usually open to the public. More information in the next few months. There will be a silent auction of special items. Our first house tour, in Octobe 2018, was a popular event and a great opportunity to find out more about these vintage Manchester houses. More about the bronze statues. Photo on right: Doorway of a house in the Lakeview section of Manchester, from the October 2018 house tour.

  • Sunday, October 23 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m., open house at the Woodbridge Farmstead, 495 East Middle Turnpike. Free. Our final open house of the 2022 season features a Halloween costume contest. Visit the farmstead, 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 Raymond and Thelma Woodbridge in 1998. Additional open houses on the second and fourth Sundays of the months through October. For a poster with old and new photos, click Woodbridge open house.

  • Sunday, October 23, at 1:00 p.m., "Culture and Anarchy in Ireland -- and the Three Literary Giants who Helped to Forge Modern Ireland," a lecture on Irish writers and their perspectives on the culture of Ireland and its people by former State Senator Mary Ann Handley. A retired Manchester Community College history professor, Mary Ann will establish a foundation for understanding the influence of James Joyce and of Nobel laureates W. B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. She'll touch on this year's 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce's "Ulysses," and on Manchester's large Irish population. Local musicians will present music from 100 years ago. 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.

  • Sunday, October 30, at 1:00 p.m., "Manchester Green" presentation by Bob Kanehl. Details soon.

  • OF INTEREST, but sponsored by our friends at the Vernon Historical Society: Sunday, October 30, 1:00 p.m., visit Rockville to tour the Francis T. Maxwell House, designed by Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933), a renowned architect, with Manchester roots, as both a descendant of the Cheney family and the architect of five mansions on the Great Lawn. Mr. Platt was one of America’s most influential landscape designers. His work for Mr. Maxwell is a Colonial-Classical Revival mansion, built in 1902-1904, Platt’s first large-scale project, which integrates the mansion and the surrounding landscape. The house and 4.5 acres are located on a hill above the city of Rockville with broad views to the south and west. With its architecture, gardens, and landscape, influenced by the Villa Gamberaia near Florence, the Maxwell estate was an important model in the American country-house movement. Mr. Maxwell was a part-owner of the Hockanum Mills Company in Rockville. Susan Barlow, Manchester’s Town Historian, will speak about Platt’s work, and his Connecticut roots. Dennis Cartier, of Rockville Elks Lodge #1359, owner of the mansion, will lead a tour of the building. After the mansion tour, we will walk to two other Platt buildings in Rockville: Kellogg Lawn, now the hospital, and the Maxwell Memorial Library, returning to our cars after the walk. Park and meet at 9 North Park Street, Rockville.

  • Sunday, November 6, at 1:00 p.m., "Famous people from Manchester Green" presentation by Bob Kanehl. Details soon.

  • Saturday, November 5 and the 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 for a visit of 10 minutes or 4 hours! The former Cheney School, built in 1859, houses permanent and special 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. More about the museum here.

  • Saturday, December 3 and the 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 for a visit of 10 minutes or 4 hours! The former Cheney School, built in 1859, houses permanent and special 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. More about the museum here.

  • The Old Manchester Museum at 126 Cedar Street, is open the first Saturday of the month, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. May through December 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. Our offices are open Wednesday through Friday 10:00 to 2:00; located in the former Cheney Machine Shop, 175 Pine Street at the corner of Forest Street -- our museum 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. Questions: 860-647-9983.

  • 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.

  • 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. 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 follows CDC, State, and Town guidelines for pandemic social-distancing and face masks.