From the 1920’s to the 1960’s, a stretch of Highway 41, or Old Dixie Highway, in North Georgia was known as Peacock Alley because one of the most familiar patterns on the chenille bedspreads displayed at the numerous roadside stands in this area was that of a peacock.
I took a drive up Highway 41 in Whitfield County/Dalton, GA to get a glimpse of what was known in much of the last century as Peacock Alley. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a very rainy day so I was out of luck in finding any locals displaying chenille bedspreads on the roadside. I have since been told that it is very rare to find roadside displays of chenille like they had in the old days anyway . On my next trip I’ll check the weather forecast and hopefully get some better pictures of the area.
In the picture below is what remains of Morgan Manufacturing Company in Tunnel Hill, GA. Obviously, it is overgrown and no longer in use but it is an example of the many roadside chenille stands that used to flourish in Peacock Alley. A picture of this establishment during it’s heyday can be found in the book North Georgia’s Dixie Highway (GA) (Images of America) by Amy Gillis Lowry and Abbie Tucker Parks.
Next is a picture of the Crown Cotton Mill in Dalton, GA. Built in 1885, it predates the widespread manufacturing of chenille bedspreads but it would become the major supplier of chenille cloth to a burgeoning cottage industry. Today it houses an archives that is great place to begin a tour of Peacock Alley. Here you can get an in depth history of the 20th century chenille economy as well as learn about other related area attractions. It’s at 715 Chattanooga Avenue in Dalton just a couple of blocks from Hwy. 41.
Next is the antebellum Hamilton House which is right next door to the Crown Cotton Mill. It now houses a museum with chenille artifacts including many fine examples of vintage bedspreads throughout the years. Recently it was used as the location to film a documentary about Catherine Evans Whitener, mother of the chenille bedspread industry.
As you can see, even the streets in Dalton are named “Chenille”…..
So if you’re a serious chenille collector or just find the history of chenille bedspreads and Peacock Alley fascinating, the place to begin a tour of the area is:
Crown Garden and Archives, 715 Chattanooga Avenue, Dalton, GA 30720. (706) 278-0217