Off the Beaten Path
Join me on an adventure. Where will we go today?
The history of Dalton, Georgia, shines on every corner with multiple historical sites. My favorite is the Mill at Crown Garden, built on the architectural bones of Crown Mills, the first industrial Dalton facility in 1884. Renovations converted the mill into Loft apartments and numerous retail and service stores. Their website says it best.
The Mill is a multi-purpose destination where fresh vibes perfectly juxtapose heritage and nostalgia. Originally a textile mill, The Mill features timeless aesthetics and a unique ambiance. A vision to breathe new life into this space gives Dalton a venue bustling with retail, restaurants, and more.
Let us be a staple in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plans, a go-to for gifts and apparel purchases, the backdrop to your weekend outings and date nights, the spot where you hang/chill/study/meet, and more!
The Thomas A. Burry house at 506 Hawthorne St. features white columns on a wrap-around porch and sits on a modest hill. Another traditional Southern home is at 506 S. Thornton Avenue, the Ainsworth E. Blunt House. If architecture interests you, the Thornton Avenue-Murray Hill Historic District provides multiple examples of antebellum and turn-of-the-century red brick homes. The 1914-built Western and Atlantic Depot is part of the historic downtown district on Depot Street. Renovated in 2009, the depot now houses the visitor center. The Dalton Commerical Historic District covers most of the traditional downtown area. Multiple quaint restaurants abound. One unique venue knocked out the inside walls and removed the ceiling. The remaining walls and brick flooring form a courtyard with live music and a bar. Walking the streets of Dalton, you will see decorated peacocks. Why peacocks in Dalton, Georgia? A century ago, U.S. Highway 41 was nicknamed “Peacock Alley” after the popular chenille peacock bedspread. The tufting techniques used to make the Peacock bedspreads eventually led to the manufacture of carpets. More on that later. The Downtown Dalton Development Authority created a Peacocks on Parade event sponsored by individuals and local businesses. Local artists incorporated their ideas and themes by submitting a proposal. The peacocks are five feet tall weigh more than one hundred pounds, and can be found throughout downtown Dalton.
You may have heard that Dalton is the carpet capital of the world. How did this small town in the foothills come to wrestle this title away from Persia? Over half of all the carpets sold in the US are still made in the greater Dalton area.
Many global company headquarters are in Dalton such as Beaulieu, J&J Industries, and Shaw. I have a soft spot for textile manufacturing as I worked for Dixie Group for a little over a decade. It is thanks to Catherine Evans Whitener that carpet reigns king in Dalton. At 15 years old, she made a bedspread in 1895 as a wedding gift for her brother. She had seen a colonial version using a long-forgotten technique called candlewick tufting. She tried and failed many times through experimentation until she finally perfected it. The bedspread gift was a local phenomenon and then became a national obsession. More orders than could be filled led her to teach neighbors how to tuft and a new industry was born. Largely agricultural and very poor, tufting bedspreads was a successful side business to the family farm. By 1920, thousands were working out of their homes in Dalton, making these peacock-tufted bedspreads.
The nationwide demand led to mechanized innovations and factories sprang up all around Dalton. There can only be just so long a new craze will last and the attention finally slowed for the bedspreads. With the factories in place, the owners diversified into other areas such as carpet. By the 1970s, Dalton had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the USA. The recession and decline of the housing market hurt so many of the bigger carpet companies consolidated to save money and streamline manufacturing. Hard flooring also became competitive. It became difficult to find enough labor as well so immigrants were encouraged to come work in Dalton. Today, about 50% of the population is Hispanic. The restaurants and stores reflect the influence of the immigrants.
Dalton is an interesting, historical place to visit. I would be remiss to fail to mention the tremendous creative aspects of Dalton. The Creative Arts Guild is one of the oldest in Georgia. Two theater companies provide fantastic shows: the Dalton Little Theater and the Artistic Creative Theater. Multiple live music is offered at many of the venues around town. If you a local beer or a cold press coffee, Dalton has it. I spent a day just wandering the historic downtown area, observing the murals and peacocks, and window shopping at the unique stores.