Born in the U.S.A. Part 1 – A Brief History of the Carpet Capital of the World

There was once a quaint little town nestled in the Georgia foothills. It was born of a fiercely independent people and spirit. Originally settled by the Cherokee and future home to battle scarred Civil War veterans; the denizens of Dalton, Georgia in the late 1800’s were tough, rugged, no-nonsense folk who refused to be subjected to the footnote of history.

The carpet industry as we know it today was born in Dalton. Were it not for the inventive souls populating this part of the country at the turn of the century, it is likely that the carpets we know and love today would look and feel different. And, here is a surprise: the first iteration of the modern carpet was actually…a bedspread!

Catherine Evans Whitener, desiring to create a unique wedding gift, commenced upon a project that would not only change her fate and those of her neighbors, but would succeed in spawning an industry of such magnitude; it would change the fate of everyone’s future for generations to come.

When Ms. Whitener decided to create a bedspread based on a quilt pattern, she devised the notion of sewing thick yarns of cotton into muslin; clipping the ends of the yarn followed by washing the cloth in hot water to shrink the yarns into the fabric. The resulting fabric was durable, stylish and in demand. By the early 1930’s, demand grew to such an extent that people from surrounding areas were actively recruited into Dalton to assist with the creation of additional bedspreads which was rapidly evolving from a cottage industry into a force to be reckoned with.

It was a difficult time in our history; the Great Depression was wreaking havoc throughout the nation and in many small towns just like this one, people were struggling to survive. But, Dalton had the advantage of producing an innovative product . And this advantage allowed many families in this area the ability to put food on the table and keep their homes.

In the true spirit of American entrepreneurship, one of these industrious citizens took it upon herself to ship a bedspread to Wannamaker’s department store in New York. Mrs. J.T. Bates inserted a bill for $98.15 within the folds of several bedspreads and sent them off without any real expectations since she had no contact with anyone from the well-known and well-heeled department store. The good people at Wannamaker’s, knowing a good thing when they saw it, promptly sent back a check for the $98.15 and the Chenille Bedspread, as it was dubbed, was introduced onto the national stage.

Chenille bedspreads soon became popular across the country and Dalton’s new nickname was born: The Bedspread Capital of the World.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 and discover how Dalton evolved from the “Bedspread Capital” to the “Carpet Capital of the World!”