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

Happy 50th Anniversary!

In 1963, two West Road residents, Gene Bond and Alfred Gilbert, united by a love of Dorset and its history, founded the Dorset Historical Society and supported it actively for a number of years until it became firmly established. For the first thirty years, meetings were held in the Dorset Church Vestry. As historical artifacts were donated to the Society, it was a challenge to find places to store and exhibit the collection. Some were stored in the public library, some in the small building adjacent to Peltier's (now the Dorset Union Store) and eventually the Society moved to the unused Fire Department building next to the Post Office.

An early member of DHS was the artist, Elsa Bley, one of the founding group of the Southern Vermont Artists, who also served as a director of DHS. While actively pursuing her own art work, she also gave art lessons to children and other members of the community. At the end of her life in 1990, she gave her house to the Historical Society, which bears her name.

The new housing for the Society provided it with vastly greater display space, meeting space, storage space, a conference room, and office space. The renovation of the house, which was in considerable disrepair, was achieved through fund-raising, extraordinary volunteer dedication, and collective public spirit of local businessmen, contractors, and individuals. In August 1991, DHS moved into its new home.

By 2005, however, it was clear that a constantly wet basement and dampness were endangering the collection and steps needed to be taken to improve the environment. The entire collection had to be moved temporarily offsite while the 170-year-old house was raised and relocated onto a full  concrete foundation further away from the road.  Today it is a temperature and humidity-controlled, warm and dry facility. Bley House Museum welcomes visitors from many locations. (With thanks to A. W. Gilbert, Jr.’s research for the 30th Anniversary in 1993)

The ceramics shown here are hand painted and custom designed for the Dorset Historical Society’s 50th anniversary by Roseanne Henning of Rah Earth Pottery in Arlington. Rosanne is a former student of the Elsa Bley. They will be for sale in our gift shop.
50th Anniversary Mug
Mug: $20

50th Anniversary Ornaments
Flat ornaments: $10

50th Anniversary Globe Ornament
Round globe ornament $20

RAFFLE: Hand-crafted bird house replica of the DHS's Bley House Museum made by local craftsman, Scott Thompson.
Raffle tickets are $5 each or three for $10.

Dorset Historical Society
Member of Vermont Historical Society

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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