Dorset Vermont Historical Society Bley House Museum
Welcome to Historic Dorset, Vermont
Bley House
Welcome to Bley House Museum
The Dorset Historical Society was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1963. The Society's purposes are: to discover and collect materials that will help establish or illustrate the history of Dorset, Vermont; to provide for the preservation of relevant collections; to exhibit archival materials and disseminate historical information; and to educate members of the Society and the public. Toward these ends, DHS collects and maintains artifacts, art, photographs, documents, books, manuscripts, and genealogical records pertinent to Dorset and its environs from the time the town was chartered in 1761 to the present.
The Society's home is the Bley House Museum, located on Route 30 at Kent Hill Road. Among the museum's featured exhibits are Fenton stoneware, paintings by Dorset artists, and in the Marble Gallery, a large display that showcases 130 years of quarrying, hauling, and finishing marble in Dorset and East Dorset—all part of the town's most historically significant industry. Two historic buildings using marble from Dorset quarries are the Old Customs House in Erie, Pennsylvania—the first major building in the U.S. to use marble (1839)—and the New York Public Library (1910).
Dorset Quarry
Norcross-West Marble Quarry, earliest (1785) commercial marble quarry

“[Elsewhere] you have to make your own composition —
Nature has been uncooperative everywhere but Vermont.”

Elsa Bley



Elsa Wilhemina Bley
March 10, 1903 – July 21, 1990

Elsa Bley was born in New York City, the only child of George and Sophie (Munch) Bley.

Her grandfather was a German immigrant and sculptor of architectural pieces.  Her father owned and operated a Manhattan apothecary, and died when Elsa was still young.

Elsa studied at the Grand Central Art School and the Art Students League of New York, under George Luks and John Sloan.  She and her mother moved to Scarsdale in 1932, where Elsa  taught classes under the auspices of the Scarsdale Art Guild.  She began summering in Dorset in 1938, and moved here permanently in 1945.

In Vermont, she became very active in the artist community. For four decades she taught art students in her home and at the Southern Vermont Art Center.  She painted portraits, and rendered many local landscapes in watercolor.

When Elsa passed away, she bequeathed her home to the Dorset Historical Society, which moved into Bley House in 1991. 





Art Classes Sign
paint on wood, c. 1938

Bequeathed by Elsa Bley, 1994.711.00



Art Students (Detail)
oil on canvas, c. 1950 – 1960

Museum Purchase, 1995.025.12



Old Man
oil on canvas, 1932

Museum Purchase, 1995.043.00



Village Carpenter
oil on canvas, 1940

Museum Purchase, 1995.042.00



Dorset/East Ruppert Road
watercolor, c. 1938 – 1990

Museum Purchase, 1995.041.00



Country Road
watercolor, c. 1938 – 1960

Museum Purchase, 1995.040.00



Whither Youth? (Detail)
watercolor, c. 1960

Donated by Linda McGinness, 2014.008.1




The Old Cattle Tree
watercolor, c. 1960

Bequeathed by the Estate of Elsa Bley, 2007.067.00

Dorset Historical Society
Member of Vermont Historical Society and
The New England Museum Association

PO Box 52 · Route 30 at Kent Hill Road
Dorset, VT 05251 USA · 802-867-0331

— Open Hours —
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, 10-4 p.m.
Saturday, 10-2 p.m.

Other days and times by appointment

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