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23 Walks: Downtown Manchester Churches

On Saturday, July 1, Susan Barlow, Town Historian, led a walk around downtown Manchester, explaining the history of some of the churches. Participants met at the town parking lot adjacent to St. James Church.

After learning about Manchester’s earliest (Podunk) and more recent (European) histories and some of the history of St. James Church, we walked past St Mary’s Church to Emmanuel Lutheran.

St Mary’s Church

Gargoyles on the Steeple at St. Mary’s Church

Church Volunteer Valerie Norris met us on the church’s steps and welcomed us inside.

Group photo on the Steps of Emmanuel Lutheran Church

100-year-old Emmanuel Lutheran Church – Dedicated in March of 1923

The first church was built on land donated by the Cheney Family on this spot in 1886 for $3300.

Volunteer Valerie Norris Addresses the Group

Emmanuel Lutheran Church Altar

A Brief Stop in the Cheney Brothers National Historic Landmark District, established in 1978

Sexton Don Wilby Greeted the Group at South United Methodist Church

Quarry Stone for the Church Donated by the Case Brothers

This post briefly overviews the many interesting facts Susan covered during the walk. If you have yet to attend a history walk, I highly recommend it. Susan presents the historical information in an engaging and friendly manner. You will learn about architecture and how Manchester has changed from demolition to preservation. You will understand how different groups and religions discriminated against each other. You will see things for the first time, something you have often walked by and have not seen.

The next walk is on Sunday, September 17, at 1:00, beginning on the front steps of the town hall and continuing into Center Memorial Park.

Here is a link to the booklet describing all of the walks this year: 23 Walks Booklet

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What a Treat!! A Break from COVID-19 Monotony!

Thank you Beller’s Music!!!

Not much has been happening in the Manchester area since the COVID Quarantine started in mid-March. Absent are the MCC Band Shell Concerts, Yard Goats Baseball Games, Senior Center classes, recreational opportunities, and TheaterWorks and LTM productions.

Even with a partial reopening in the state, we have felt the need to continue being cautious about social distancing and wearing a mask. We haven’t visited any indoor dining establishments or attended summer social gatherings.  When we were out for our nightly walk around the block with Esther earlier this week, we were surprised by a sign advertising a concert at Center Memorial Park.

A quick look at the Beller’s Music website revealed this flyer.

Concert flier2020

We decided to check it out. Most people arrived wearing masks and kept them on until they were seated safely. There was a big sign letting us know how far apart to sit.


The weather was perfect. A socially distanced audience, relaxing music, and plenty of shady spots to sit created a joyful, soul-nourishing and much appreciated night out. The five-piece band, Autumn Mode, played selections made famous by Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Marvin Gaye, and Steely Dan, to name a few.



We eagerly anticipate attending more Beller’s Music Thursday Night Concerts during this pandemic summer!

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Chuckles Picks KC

The media arrived in Manchester before sunrise this morning. What’s the attraction? Super bowl Sunday? Road Race? No, just Chuckles making her predications.

Town Troubadours Bill Ludwig and Dan Miller lead the early risers in a song to coax Chuckles out and make predictions.

According to Mayor Jay Moran, who speaks fluent groundhog, Chuckles made two predictions.

  • Early Spring
  • KC will win tonight


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Manchester Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast


October 31, 2018

The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) is located in a Cheney Mansion built by Frank Cheney, Manchester’s first fire chief.  It’s situated at 20 Hartford Rd. close to Main St.

Early Wednesday morning the chamber, in partnership with AT&T, hosted a breakfast for people running for office.  After eating breakfast provided by AT&T at the Shoppes at Buckland Hills and some time to wander around meeting people, April DiFalco, President of the GMCC asked everyone to sit down.  The pre-election forum was set up with a panel of candidates facing the audience and a moderator, John Emra from AT&T.

The panelists seated from left to right were:

  • Mark Tweedie (R), CT Senate District 4
  • Thomas Tierney (R), CT House District 12
  • Jennifer Fiereck (R), CT House District 13
  • Jason Rojas (D), CT House District 9
  • Geoff Luxenberg (D), CT House District 12
  • Jason Doucette (D), CT House District 13
  • Jeff Curry (D), CT House District 11
  • Steve Cassano (D), CT Senate District 4
  • Jennifer Nye (R), US House District 1
  • Jeff Russell (G), US Senate
  • John Larson (D), US House District 1

Each candidate had two minutes to introduce themselves. I took brief notes on the introductions that I will share here:

  • John Larson is an incumbent U.S. Congressman who talked about being proud to be involved in a bi-partisan technology take-off that helped Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney and Electric Boat in the state of CT.  Also, he had a plan to fix and fund social security and talked about how it is unfair to women.
  • Jeff Russell is the green party candidate.  He isn’t worried about the U.S. running out of money because the U.S. is the source of money.  Our debt is not actually a debt but represents the money supply.  He is for universal health care.
  • Jennifer Nye’s experience in office included a position on the Manchester Board of Directors.   Running against John Larson to be a representative in the U.S. Congress  she would support strong borders, legal immigration and term limits.
  • Steve Cassano previously had served as deputy mayor and then mayor of Manchester.  He is an incumbent running for office for the last time and is running against Mark Tweedie.  He wants to fill manufacturing jobs at Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Electric Boat by providing training.  He doesn’t think everyone needs to go to college and that junior high school is the place to begin to let students know about all of the career options.
  • Jeff Curry is an incumbent who is running unopposed.  His district includes the Buckland Hills area and East Hartford.  He is concerned about crumbling foundations and as a state rep has been involved in a committee that will provide funding to homeowners whose foundations are deteriorating from pyrrhotite.  There will be a rollout of funds which will be available in December to homeowners.  He wants to improve the predictability of education funding so schools are not scrambling at the last minute or during the school year to fund teaching positions.  He has championed LGBTQ rights.
  • Jason Doucette is an attorney and small business owner running against Jennifer Fiereck.  He started his own law practice and works with many small business owners.
  • Geoff Luxenberg recognized local politicians Jay Moran, mayor of Manchester and Darryl Thames, Board of Education member who were in attendance in the audience.  He also defended Chris Murphy who he felt had been unfairly attacked by Jennifer Nye because he has enrolled his children in school in D.C.  Geoff defended Mr. Murphy’s decision to be involved in raising his family by moving them closer to where he spends most of his work days.  Jennifer had questioned if Chris Murphy  is still considered a CT resident.
  • Jason Rojas is running for a 6th term.  He serves as co-chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and is a member of the Planning and Development Committee and works closely with the Appropriations Committee.  There is much work to do but behind closed doors there is a bi-partisan effort to get things done for CT.
  • Jennifer Fiereck is a political outsider who wants to make the world better for her children.  She is a small business owner who supports term limits and doesn’t want additional burdens on the wealthy and big business.
  • Tom Tierney is running as an unaffiliated candidate but has been supported by the Republicans.
  • Mark Tweedie runs a dental lab that makes crowns and bridges.  He believes business is the answer to our budget problems and we need less red tape which slows growth.

After each person spoke the candidates were asked questions; first by the moderator and then by the audience.  The initial questions were on transportation and the crumbling infrastructure and how to fund both.  John Larson is concerned that infrastructure funding has not increased for 8 years.  He is an advocate for using federal funds to build two tunnels through Hartford to re-connect the city divided by I-84 and gain access to the riverfront cut off by I-91.  Jennifer Nye does not want a tunnel but would go through the northend of Hartford.

Jason Doucette would fund infrastructure improvements by requiring tolls for out of state traffic.  Steve Cassano supports a mix of spending.  Mark Tweedie thought the cost of the tolls would be passed on to the consumer.  Jeff Russell questioned if tolls were a violation of the commerce clause of the constitution.

Additional questions were asked about what has been done in the past year to train people to fill the 35,000 job vacancies at Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Electric Boat.  Steve Cassano stated that a program was started in Jr. High Schools to get students interested in those careers and Jason Rojas indicated that money was re-allocated to workforce programs.

The final question was asked by Darryl Thames of the Manchester Board of Education.  He mentioned that state funding for schools has diminished and requested that the candidates share their views of funding public education.  Jeff Russell addressed this question by speaking strongly about the need for better leadership from the U.S. Department of Education.  We need someone who supports students by getting rid of these ludicrous tests that are turning public education into child abuse.  Geoff Luxenberg also spoke up in support of more funding for the public school system.

At that point we ran out of time.  I went back later to speak to April DiFranco and get pictures of the building.  Since Election Day is tomorrow I felt that sharing this information as soon as I could was important so please excuse any errors and please vote tomorrow.

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Did you Remember to Vote?

 Admittedly some of the candidates are pretty scary this year and conversations with them can be downright frustrating.

Wednesday is the last day to cast your ballot.

And here are your choices.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To vote go to this facebook page:

Or, better yet go downtown and see for yourself and then vote in one of the downtown stores.

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Excited About Toddling Tots


On Tuesday, my granddaughter Rose and I attended a program at the Manchester Public Library called Toddling Tots.  The children attending were in the age range of 12-24 months.  The parents and grandparents were older.  We had a great time singing songs, playing with scarves, listening to a story and looking at a book.  The program was downstairs in the Howroyd Room.

We arrived a little early and stayed a little bit after the program was over.  In the children’s section of the library there were two chairs just the right size for Rose to sit in, puppets to play with and lots of books to look at.  The Children’s Department at Manchester Public Library is staffed by four librarians with Master’s of Library Science Degrees.  They choose books, read reviews and prepare and present programming with an emphasis on encouraging a love of reading.  What could be better?

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Manchester Public Library

What do the towns of Greenwich, Stamford, Fairfield, West Hartford and Manchester have in common?

Here is a hint.

Did you guess?

GREAT LIBRARIES is the correct answer!!!!  That’s right, in Manchester, the library circulation numbers are just below the numbers for Greenwich, Stamford and Fairfield and comparable to West Hartford.  However, Manchester has a much smaller library and only 25 parking spaces!  Must be a lot of motivated readers in town.

Did you know that the Manchester Public Library got its start in the Cheney Mills in 1840?  At that time the mills were smaller wooden structures, not the large brick buildings which dominate the west end of Manchester today. The women who skeined the silk worked in a large room together.  The work was monotonous and they decided that while working they wanted someone to read to them.  That was multitasking in the good old days!  So, they pooled their money and started buying books.  In all, they bought 150 books of which the library today still has 125 original copies.  We saw a couple of them at the Manchester Government Academy Meeting last Thursday.

In 1850, these women decided they would like to have a circulating library and petitioned the town.  All of the books previously purchased by the mill workers had been non-fiction.   Some people wanted to add fiction to the collection.  There were discussions and disagreements because another group thought non-fiction was all that should be allowed.  You could call it fiction friction.  But, eventually, it was agreed that both fiction and non-fiction books would be purchased.  The books were first housed in the office of the Cheney Brothers and later moved to the basement of Cheney Hall.  In 1880, the books were moved to a house on Wells St where they remained until the fire of 1913.  During the fire, many of the books were saved using a bucket brigade in reverse or book saving brigade.  The books were then moved to a house on Main St.  Circulation increased with this more central location.

In 1937, labor was cheap because of the depression.  Skilled craftsman worked for a dollar a day using WPA funds and matching town funds to construct what today is known as the Mary Cheney Library or the Main Branch of the Manchester Public Library.  The Whiton Branch is a smaller building located in the north end of town.  With a budget of $3 million and a full-time staff of 25, the library offers books, ebooks, audiobooks, downloadable movies, museum passes, kits for teachers and families, CDs, DVDs and lots of programs.

One interesting program is the Silk City Board Game Group which was mentioned in the Money Magazine write-up of Manchester’s #1 ranking.  There is also a Read in the Park Day, Author Talks, a Mystery Book Club and a Cookbook Club to name a few.  There are children’s programs that focus on literacy and a love of reading.  Stay tuned for a follow-up library post on the Toddling Tots Program which I attended with my granddaughter, Rose.