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 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 generally open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. , 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.

  • "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.

  • Saturday, June 10, 2017, Museum Open House Day, open 11 to 3: • Cheney Homestead at 106 Hartford Road, and the Keeney Schoolhouse located on the Homestead Grounds • Old Manchester Museum, 126 Cedar Street • Loom Room exhibit, enter at 199 Forest Street or 175 Pine Street • Woodbridge Farmstead barn and grounds, backyard of 495 Middle Turnpike East. Also, Pitkin Glass Works, co-owned by the Historical Society, Town and DAR, located at the intersection of Parker and Putnam Streets in the Manchester Green section of town will be open 11 to 3; info: Pitkin Glass Works. The fire museum and Lutz museum are also open. The Cheney Homestead was donated to the Manchester Historical Society by the Cheney family in 1968 for use as a house museum. For old photos and history of the Homestead on this website, visit Cheney Homestead history. Donations accepted.

  • Sunday, June 11, Tea and Textiles at the History Center, from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m., featuring a textile exhibit, door prizes, silent auction, and guest speaker Carol Cheney, who will talk about Cheney Brothers silk empire, and provide a glimpse into the family that founded America’s largest silk mills. "The Cheneys’ practice of industrial paternalism provided services touching every aspect of their employees’ lives and helped Manchester grow into a thriving center of fine craftsmanship in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Learn about the role of advertising in and about the Cheneys’ legacy of philanthropy in Manchester and Hartford." Carol is the great granddaughter of one of the founders of Cheney Brothers. Enjoy an abundant tea with a large variety of treats, both savory and sweet, along with hot tea in china cups. All welcome to this entertaining and elegant afternoon -- bring a friend and neighbor. $30 per person. Print this invitation and send check with guests' names to 175 Pine Street, Manchester, CT 06040, attention; Textile Tea.

  • Sunday, June 11 from noon to 4:00 p.m., Gardening in the "History Garden" and planting an herb garden, Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Visit our growing kitchen garden and learn about herbs while helping to plant herbs with visiting gardener, Nan Millett. Children and adults can learn about gardening in early America. Children can dress up in early American clothes and make an early American toy. View the 1785 house at 106 Hartford Road, and hear commentary about the residence, which 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 level. Visit the Keeney Schoolhouse on the grounds of the Homestead. For old photos and history of the Homestead on this web site, visit Cheney Homestead history. We plan Open Houses on the third Sunday of the month. Donations accepted for the upkeep of the Homestead.

  • Tuesday, June 13 at 10:00 a.m., the Historical Society's Genealogy Group -- a meeting for both amateur and more experienced genealogists. A genealogy "road show" format with a panel to address questions to and get suggestions regarding a variety of genealogical pursuits. Learn about GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard), which basically means doing an exhaustive search. Whether you are beginning your family history research, have been pursuing it for several months or years... there is often a missing piece, or pieces, to the puzzle. When you ask a question, all will share in the panel's response. Also, each person may have an answer based on their own research experience. Topics include: correctly entering dates, names and places; places and types of sources where you can find information; noting and recording the source that you got your information from; proving that you have searched every nook and cranny that you possibly can. Members of the Genealogy Group will be available to meet with any attendee who has questions or needs help regarding their research. 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. Visit Genealogy Page to find out more about the group, contact the coordinators, or read information about previous meetings and presentations.

  • Saturday June 17, 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, schools, and a church, with a visit to the nine acres 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. The South United Methodist Church will open one of its mansions for our participants -- the former home of Mary Cheney, for whom the Downtown library was named. Extreme weather cancels, but the walk will be held in light rain, 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 website, visit Cheney map. The Cheney silk mills were Manchester's largest employer in the early part of the 20th century.

  • Saturdays during June, "World War I perspectives,” a 68-minute television show about the U.S. entrance into World War I, filmed April 2, 2017, the 100th anniversary of our entry in the war. Historian, professor, and retired State senator Mary Ann Handley describes the circumstances leading up to the decision to go to war. The War had started in 1914, many factors affected the reluctance to enter the war. The Manchester Historical Society thanks Mary Ann for volunteering to present information on this timely topic.. The picture at right shows a 1917 parade of Manchester recruits. 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 and directed by Kathryn Wilson, with post-production and research by Jill Gelinas, all volunteers of the Manchester Historical Society. If you are having trouble viewing the Public Access channels, please phone Cox cable -- you may need a converter box. You can watch some of our previous television shows online at the Town web site Historical shows on demand. You can watch this month's show on the Public Access website Current TV Programs on Manchester Public Access.

  • Sunday, July 9 from noon to 4:00 p.m., Open House at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Celebrating women who lived at the Homestead and who contributed to their Town. Visit our growing History Garden! Children can dress up in early American clothes and make an early American toy. View the 1785 house at 106 Hartford Road, and hear commentary about the residence, which 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 level. Visit the Keeney Schoolhouse on the grounds of the Homestead. For old photos and history of the Homestead on this web site, visit Cheney Homestead history. We plan Open Houses on the third Sunday of the month. Donations accepted for the upkeep of the Homestead.

  • Sunday, September 17, "Dancing with the Celebrities, 1:00 p.m. at Cheney Hall, 177 Hartford Road. Featuring ten local celebrities, presenting a special dance with their partners. Instructors courtesy of Arthur Murray Dance Studios of Glastonbury and Vernon, Connecticut. There will also be a silent auction. Admission $15 for ages 13 to adult, and $5 for ages 12 and under. Details to follow! Save the date!

  • Sunday, October 1, (NOTE DATE) Hilliard Mills walk and tour, 1:00 p.m.: Meet at 642 Hilliard Street for a walking tour and commentary about the historic buildings in the Hilliardville section of Manchester, including the country's oldest woolen mill. This section of town is named for the Hilliard family, but it was the Pitkin family that started the mills in the eighteenth century. Owner Peter Bonzani and Society volunteer Susan Barlow will present information and stories. We will tour building interiors and also walk outside about a half mile, encountering uneven and possibly wet terrain. Rain or shine, so please bring an umbrella if weather is wet. $7 for non-members, $5 for members, free for children under 16. For additional information about Hilliard Mills on this web site, click here.

  • Saturday, October 7, the 41st 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.


    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.