Manchester is a small city (pop. <60,000) in central Connecticut, conveniently located 10 minutes east of the capital city of Hartford, under 2 hours from Boston, 2½ hours from New York City, and 45 minutes from the Connecticut shoreline. Manchester’s motto is the “City of Village Charm,” though it is often referred to as “Silk City,” due to it’s reputation of silk textile manufacturing in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Because of the many streams in town, Manchester became home to several paper and fabric mills, starting as early as the late 1700s. These included the Oakland Paper Mills and the Hilliard Mills, the oldest woolen mill site in the country. The most expansive mill complex in town belonged to the Cheney family, whose Cheney Brothers Silk Mills, started in 1838, became the largest silk mill in the world. The Cheneys had their own railroad and fire station and built many family mansions. Cheney hall (a community cultural center) and a library are among the more philanthropic contributions of the Cheney family to the town. The majority of the larger mill buildings have been restored and converted to housing; the library, fire station, cultural center, and most of the mansions still stand. The Manchester Historical Society owns what was once the mill Machine Shop while PhotoSynthesis occupies one of the smaller Cheney buildings. The Cheney district is now designated as a National Historic Landmark District.
Manchester has an active and ever-growing arts and cultural community. There are several museums—The Manchester History Center, the Old Manchester Museum, The Fire Museum, the Cheney Homestead Museum, and the Lutz Children’s Museum. The Little Theatre of Manchester is the caretaker of Cheney Hall and performs several plays there per year. This venue is also used for various concerts, lectures, and other events. The Manchester Art Association is a vibrant group that is enthusiastic about promoting art in the area. Its members routinely hold exhibitions at various locations around town. Manchester’s art galleries include the Gallery at PhotoSynthesis, the Hans Weiss Newspace Gallery, and the MCC on Main Art Gallery.
Accomodations and restaurants are plentiful in Manchester. Navigation is not difficult and, if shopping is your thing, there is no shortage of retail establishments.
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