Manchester Public Library
Reference Department 860-645-0821
Mary Cheney was the daughter of Frank and Susan Cushing Cheney. Frank was one of the original eight Cheney brothers and one of the founders of the silk business here in Manchester.
Frank and Susan had five children - Frank Jr., Mary, Katherine, Alice and Paul. Mary never married and she devoted her life to the town of Manchester. She lived most of her life in the large grey brick house that is now part of the South Methodist Church campus located on Main Street, Manchester.
Mary inherited a substantial estate from her parents, which allowed her time to contribute to various civic activities and organizations. She gave financial aid to families in time of hardship, contributed to young adults' scholarship funds, served on the school committee and the South Manchester Library board, gave Christmas gifts to kindergarten children and contributed both time and money to the new Memorial Hospital when it was built. She took up the hospital kitchen as her personal task and kept it supplied with equipment during the rest of her life.
Besides her various civic interests, Mary was an avid gardener. She maintained beautiful gardens around her home and kept them open to the public as if they were a town park.
Mary, as well as the rest of the Cheney family, was never one to make public the various philanthropic contributions made to Manchester. The Manchester Public Library was named after Mary Cheney. The plaque in the library's lobby reads -
"This library is honored by the name of Mary Cheney. A Friend of the distressed and a comforting listener. A public spirited citizen whose interest and help were given whole heartedly to all civic and cultural activities in Manchester particularly to the work of this library."
A portrait of Miss Cheney, painted on the occasion of her twenty-first birthday, can be found at the entrance to the Reference Room.
"Great Oaks Memoirs of the Cheney Family" by Antoinette Cheney Crocker, 1977
"A New England Pattern, The History of Manchester, Connecticut" by William E. Buckley, 1973