“I propose to organize a 251 Club to be made up of Vermonters and others who can show that they have visited, not merely driven through, the 251 towns in the state.”
The 251 Club was first suggested by Dr. Arthur W. Peach in the Summer 1954 issue of Vermont Life Magazine. A poet, professor, writer, and historian, effusive about all things Vermont, Dr. Peach was welcomed to the magazine’s advisory board in its third issue (1947).
His popular literary column, “At the Sign of the Quill,” was introduced as a regular magazine feature in the 1949-1950 winter issue with the promise to “discuss themes ranging widely from authors and books to cabbages and kings.”
It was here that Dr. Peach was inspired to propose an informal group to be known as the 251 Club in response to countless reader inquiries, “How can I come to know the real Vermont?”
He invited “the native born and those born elsewhere but with Vermont in them” to veer from the beaten path “to discover the secret and lovely places that main roads do not reveal.” He was committed to the idea that every corner of his home state had attractions, beauty, history, traditions and people of interest.
Given the wide circulation of Vermont Life Magazine, the response from within and outside of Vermont’s borders was remarkable. A new batch of Vermont maps had to be printed to meet the growing demand while letters from prospective club members rolled in.
Over a half-century later, the quest to visit Vermont’s organized towns and cities, as well as its five “unorganized” towns (Averill, Ferdinand, Glastenbury, Lewis, and Somerset) continues. 251 Club members adventure through the state following the words of Dr. Peach:
“A swift turn from one of our main roads, and you are on your way to the rewarding experience of a lifetime and memories good until the years are frosty.”
An Addition of a City Makes it 252!
On July 1, 2022, Governor Phil Scott officially signed the bill that created the City of Essex Junction. This means that members now have 252 towns and cities in Vermont to visit!
About Dr. Peach
Prior to his six-year tenure as the Vermont Historical Society’s top administrator, Dr. Peach was a distinguished member of Norwich University’s English Department, which he joined in 1913. He transformed the university’s meager course offerings in English literature into an English major and became the first department chair, a position he held for 37 years, even as he coached the football and debate teams, played cello in the Musical Club Singers Orchestra, and found time to be an avid outdoorsman.
In addition to the notable accomplishments at Norwich University, Dr. Peach edited a four-volume collection of Vermont prose, poetry, biography and folk songs; chaired the state’s Sesquicentennial Commission in 1941; co-founded the Authors League of Vermont (now the League of Vermont Writers); and served as president of the Poetry Society of Vermont and the Better Library Movement which created the regional library system that is still in operation today.