Manchester, Connecticut, might be a small town with a population of less than 60,000, but it offers a number of cultural activities for people living there. Some of the activities focus on the town’s past history and serve as a reminder of its role in the silk industry in the US. Other things to do in Manchester highlight the abilities and talents of the town’s residents.
The Little Theatre of Manchester is designed to be a theater company of, by, and for the local community. It got its start in 1960 and was originally put together by the town’s recreation department. In the mid-1990s, it reorganized as a non-profit organization. The theater produces an average of three shows every season, using non-professional actors from the local area. Shows include comedies such as “Barefoot in the Park,” as well as musicals like “Next to Normal.”
The company performs at Cheney Hall, which was first built in the 1860s and was originally intended to be a theater. Along with being the home of the Little Theatre, the hall is also frequently rented out by other organizations that need a performance space.
People living in Manchester who love music or who have a musical talent might want to check out the Manchester Symphony Orchestra. Like the Little Theatre, the orchestra is a volunteer organization. Part of its mission is to “promote the performance of quality orchestral and choral music on a non-profit basis,” but it also provides educational opportunities for people in the town. Every season, the orchestra performs a number of concerts at either Manchester High School or Manchester Community College. Concerts at the college are free for students of the school. Otherwise, tickets to each performance are $18.
The town is home to four museums, two of which are overseen by the Manchester Historical Society and reach back to the town’s early years as the center of the silk industry. The Old Manchester Museum provides information about the town’s history, including its connection to silk production and the way people lived in the early years. The museum also happens to be home to the Manchester Sports Hall of Fame, which celebrates athletes from the area. The historical society also oversees the Cheney Homestead Museum, which is the house in which Timothy Cheney, a renowned miller, once lived.
People interested in the development of firefighting technology might want to pay a visit to the Fire Museum. Located in a former fire station, the museum’s collection includes a number of interesting artifacts having to do with early firefighting, as well as an early Gamewell Fire Alarm System. At the museum, visitors can trace the development of fire trucks from hand drawn to motorized.
The Lutz Children’s Museum is designed for kids up until the age of 10. Named for Hazel Lutz, a teacher, the museum got its start with a collection of items she picked on her journeys around the world. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday and admission is $7 per person.
Whether you want to watch your neighbors perform in a play or learn more about your town, you’ll find plenty of cultural activities throughout the city of Manchester.