Bethel was the first town chartered by Independent Vermont in 1779 and was named after the the Biblical village of Bethel. Dudley Chase, a grantee, was on a surveying expedition with a group of men. The men made camp in an area near the (now) entrance to Gilead Brook Road where there is a group of large moss covered rocks. The men slept on the rocks and upon waking, Dudley Chase declared that it was the best night sleeping he had ever had, just like the Biblical experience of Jacob when sleeping in a field with a stone for a pillow. In the Biblical story, Jacob named the place Beth-el (House of God). Chase’s associates were so impressed that they named the town the same.
Bethel sits at the intersection of three branches of the White River. The downtown of Bethel sits quite literally ‘over’ the river, looming above the rushing waters that sidle through the village. Full of local community pride, each year a two day Bethel Forward Festival is held, celebrating the town, the residents, and the businesses that call Bethel home.It is a charming community, located just off Exit 3 on I-89.
Most of Bethel’s Main Street is an Historic District. One of the most important buildings in downtown is the Bethel Town Hall, at the junction of Main and Church Streets. Architect George Guernsey designed this historic building in 1891. The Town Hall is home to the Bethel Historical Society, which displays materials related to the history of Bethel.
Bethel is known for being the source of Bethel White granite which was used to build Union Station in Washington D.C. and the National Museum of Natural History.