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Cheney Brothers Great Lawn


Cheney Brothers Great Lawn
Manchester, Connecticut

The Cheney Brothers National Historic Landmark District located in Manchester , Connecticut is one of only three landmark districts within the state. The National Landmark nomination for the Cheney Brothers Historic District describes in detail the significance and integrity of the diverse historic resources of South Manchester , which encompasses approximately 175 acres of land and about 250 buildings. The Cheney family mansions, dating from 1785 to 1911, are sited in this intact historic landscape in an open space called the Great Lawn. The Great Lawn consists of nine acres on Hartford Road that provide a setting for the historic homes of the Cheney family whose silk mills, worker housing, mansions, and town landscapes shaped the appearance of the community.

Over the years, the potential for private development around the Great Lawn area has increased, which led the National Park Service to increase its priority to save this threatened landmark. In response, the Town of Manchester developed an extensive and detailed Historic Zone Regulation to specify guidelines for rehabilitation of existing structures and development of additional structures. Concern over the potential impact of pending development, even under these guidelines, prompted the Connecticut Trust to seek a consultant to review and make recommendations for improvements for the Historic Zone Regulations, as they relate to the Great Lawn. Heritage Landscapes was hired to carry out a focused study of the Great Lawn to identify shortcomings of the current zoning controls and recommend possible solutions. Recommendations focused on the historic fabric and scenic qualities of the Great Lawn landscape as a setting for the Cheney Mansions. Other recommendations included converting the mansions into multi-family housing with limited additions. Additional buildings within the Great Lawn were not recommended as they degrade the historic resource and threaten the landmark status. Ultimately, the project led to a broader dialogue between private landowners and the preservation community regarding preservation issues, as well as a clearer recognition of the value of the Great Lawn. In 2002, the Manchester Board of Directors approved the purchase of the Great Lawn to continue to preserve and protect the space from further threat and implemented a formal management and use plan for the Great Lawn in early 2003.

Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation

Historic Area Development Zoning Regulation Study, 1990

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners