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.
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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.
Saturday, May 7 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.
Sunday, May 8 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Open House at the Cheney Homestead, 106 Hartford Road. Tour this historic property, with a special presentation, "Women of the Homestead," at 2:30, by Bettylou Sandy, who will portray Electa Woodbridge Cheney. Tour the grounds and gardens, and inside at the Homestead Art Gallery, where you will be inspired by Manchester's rich history in art. Masks required.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. Suggested $5 donation for the upkeep of the Homestead. The Homestead is generally open on the second Sunday of the month from 1:00 to 4:00, and on special occasions, such as Connecticut Open Museum Day.
Sunday, May 15, open house to celebrate our new visitor's center from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m., at the Woodbridge Farmstead, 495 East Middle Turnpike. Free. At 12:30, Mayor Jay Moran and the Woodbridge committee will conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate our "new" visitor center, which is a re-located and re-assembled antique barn. Guests can also 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 be present to answer questions and describe vintage items. The farm was donated to the Manchester
Historical Society by Raymond and Thelma Woodbridge in 1998. After the June 11 "Connecticut Museum Day," we'll be open on the 2nd & 4th Sunday of the month, July to October. Each Sunday offers various activities and entertainment for young and old. Masks and social distancing required recommended.
OF INTEREST Sunday, May 15, Center Park history stroll sponsored by the Cheney commission at 1:00 p.m. Meet at the front steps of Town Hall, 41 Center Street for this FREE one-hour walk to visit the park on its 117th birthday. Town Historian Susan Barlow will provide commentary as we visit: the D.A.R. fountain, 101 years old; the Civil War monument, 145 years old: and the Dancing Bear fountain, 113 years old. The park is part of the Main Street Historic District, which was listed on the National Register in 1996. Park behind or on the side of the Town Hall. Rain or shine, so please bring an umbrella if needed. Sponsored by the Cheney Brothers National Historic Landmark District Commission.
Thursday, May 19, Concert at the Bandshell sponsored by the Manchester Historical Society at 7:00 p.m. The South Windsor Community Band will play a spring concert. Free. At the Bandshell at MCC, 70 Bidwell Street, Manchester. Rain date Thursday, June 9.
Saturdays during May, "The World of Charles Adams Platt,” with Keith N. Morgan, a 59-minute television show of an illustrated program about artist and architect Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933), who had a national reputation as an etcher, painter, landscape designer, and architect. Platt was a member of the Cheney family and is buried in the family cemetery in Manchester. Keith N. Morgan, author, scholar, and professor of the history of art and architecture at Boston University, presented the lecture in June 2016, discussing Platt’s multiple careers and his work for the nation at large, as well as for Cheney family members in Manchester – including several of the mansions on the Great Lawn along Hartford Road. Platt was a central figure in American art and architecture from the late nineteenth century until the Great Depression. The free lecture was sponsored by the Cheney family, and was held at Cheney Hall, Manchester. Visit architects to find out more about Platt, Stanford White, H. H. Richardson, and other architects who designed buildings in Manchester. The illustration above right, is one of Professor Morgan's slides, showing on the left Platt's work, and a Platt portrait on the right. The TV show is produced by Historical Society volunteers. The show airs at 12:00 noon and at 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. The television show is produced by Susan Barlow and directed by Kathryn Wilson, volunteers of the Manchester Historical Society. You can watch this month's show on the Public Access website Current TV Program on Manchester Public Access website.
Saturday, June 11, Connecticut Open House Day and Manchester museums open free from 11 to 3: • the History Center at 175 Pine, the former Cheney machine shop now on the National Register of Historic Places • Cheney Homestead, gardens, and Keeney Schoolhouse at 106 Hartford Road • Cheney Homestead Arts at 199 Forest Street, classical art studio offering classes and workshops for children and adults • Old Manchester Museum at 126 Cedar Street • Woodbridge Farmstead's barn and grounds at 495 East Middle Turnpike at Manchester Green. • Pitkin Glass Works at the corner of Parker and Putnam Streets, with an archeological dig for children. Enjoy visiting the open museums and a stroll on your own in the Historic District. The fire museum, corner of Pine St. and Hartford Road is also open. There is a museum store at the History Center with books on local history, high school yearbooks, copies of vintage maps, tee-shirts, mugs, notecards, etc.
OF INTEREST, but not sponsored by the Historical Society: Saturday, June 18, a walking tour on the Great Lawn, hosted by two members of the Cheney Brothers National Historic District Commission, 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 more about the Great Lawn and its former residents on this one-and-a-quarter-hour walk, which 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 member and former resident of the Horace Bushnell Cheney House, Tom Ferguson, and Town Historian, 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 if light rain. Free. To view a map of the District on this website, click Cheney Landmark District. Photo on right: Circa 1900 image of the Horace Bushnell Cheney 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.
The Old Manchester Museum at 126 Cedar Street, is closed until May. It's 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.