Featuring rich hues of sea green, purple, yellow and blue, 20 chenille bedspreads collected by Denise Newton Arnold are a part of Dalton's heritage, she says. The bedspreads feature peacocks on the soft chenille fabric.

A carpet designer at Burtco in Dalton, Arnold was asked by a customer to design a bath rug with a peacock two years ago.

“I thought if I can design one of these, why not a bedspread,” Arnold said. Designing the rug led Arnold to begin her collection.

She went on eBay, where she found hundreds of chenille bedspreads with the peacock pattern. While they were purchased from all over the United States, Arnold believes most of the 20 she has collected were made in Dalton. But in the days when they were being made, they weren’t big sellers.

“Everyone thought the peacock pattern was garish and didn’t buy it,” Arnold said.

She said chenille bedspreads were made at the turn of the 20th century, about 50 years before manufacturers would turn their attention to carpet. Before around 1930, most were hand-made.

“They had cotton sheeting and thick yarn and did a running stitch,” Arnold said. “They would go back and close the ends and boil the bedspread to shrink it so the threads would hold.”

Arnold and Diane Cook hope to start a museum dedicated to the bedspreads.

“I remember riding the bus looking at them (the bedspreads) in the retail stores on (Highway) 41 when I was child,” said Cook, who is 55.

Arnold and Cook hope to talk to people at the Prater’s Mill Country Fair on Saturday and Sunday who remember when the chenille bedspreads were popular. Arnold will display her collection at the fair. She said it is unlikely any more chenille bedspreads will be made because finding the 12-ply yarn is nearly impossible.

What: Prater’s Mill Country Fair

When: Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: $5 for adults, with children under 12 admitted free.

Location: Prater’s Mill is located at 500 Prater Mill Road N.E. off Georgia Highway 2, 10 miles northeast of Dalton and about 30 miles south of Chattanooga.

Directions: Exit I-75 at Highway 201 (Tunnel Hill-Varnell, Exit 341). Travel north 4.5 miles to Georgia Highway 2, turn right on Highway 2 and continue 2.6 miles to Prater’s Mill.

Telephone: (706) 694-MILL (6455)

E-mail: pratersmill@PratersMill.org

Web site: www.PratersMill.org

She hopes anyone familiar with the history of the bedspreads will stop by her booth during fair hours. The booth will be located near the store at Prater’s Mill, she said.

But the bedspreads in her collection will not be for sale.

“This is my private collection,” she said. “I will donate them to a museum.”

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