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Chair: Joanne Lewis
The historic Blunt House is located at 506 S. Thornton Avenue in Dalton.
The Blunt House, completed in 1848, is the second oldest house in Dalton. It is located at 506 S. Thornton Avenue. The architecture is Federal Style with a 1910 Victorian Style addition. The original house had four rooms—two up and two down with a central stair hall. The kitchen was probably a separate building with one room attached. The fireplace in the room behind the kitchen shares a chimney with the kitchen fireplace. The room is not in the style of the addition rooms but seems more from the era of the original house. It is possible that this one room and the kitchen were used as living quarters while the main house was being built. The addition consists of a dining room, hall, and a back porch downstairs. The hall connects the one room, the kitchen, and the addition to the main house. Stairs were removed from the original front hall and were replaced with a larger staircase in the new back hall that leads upstairs to an added hall, bedroom, and a bath. The house was originally located on four acres of land with accompanying outbuildings and a barn.
The historical importance of the house is not that it is a fine example of Federal architecture but that it was the home of Ainsworth Emery Blunt, the first mayor of Dalton, the first postmaster, one of the founders of the First Presbyterian Church, and a leader in the 1851 formation of WhitfieldCounty from MurrayCounty.
Ainsworth Emery Blunt (1800-1865) was born in Amherst, New Hampshire. He traveled to Tennessee to serve as a missionary to the Cherokees at Brainerd Mission. Here he met and married his first wife, a missionary from Vermont, Harriet Ellsworth. They had five children—Martha, John Ellsworth, Ainsworth Emery, and two girls who died in infancy.
When the Cherokees traveled the Trail of Tears, Mrs. Blunt remained at the mission. Mr. Blunt, three men and a driver rode the trail in a wagon through Nashville, Tennessee and Hopkinsville, Kentucky to the Mississippi River. The weather became cold and freezing, and ice in the Mississippi prevented anyone from crossing for over a month. Mr. Blunt became gravely ill and he and one of his companions made the decision to return to Brainerd. He survived and settled in Chattanooga, where he was one of the founders of the First Presbyterian Church. He then moved to Dalton and entered the mercantile business with daughter Martha’s husband, Benjamin Morse, and began building a house for his family. Harriet died in 1847 before the house was completed. He married Elizabeth Christian Ramsey (1816–1899) from Tennessee in 1849. They had one daughter, Eliza “Lillie” Ramsey Blunt (1850-1937).
During the Confederate occupation of Dalton, in the winter of 1863-1864, General Joseph E. Johnston and his staff officers were entertained in the Blunt house. When the Union forces took Dalton, the Blunts traveled to Illinois to stay with his son, John. The house was used as a Union hospital with outside brush arbors that protected the wounded Union soldiers. Many wooden structures were burned or dismantled for firewood during the occupation. The Blunt House survived possibly because it was used as a hospital, and possibly because Mr. Blunt was a Union sympathizer. The Blunts returned in the summer of 1865, and Mr. Blunt died in December, leaving the house to his wife and Lillie.
Lillie married Thomas Miles Kirby in 1872. Mrs. Blunt lived with them until her death. They had four daughters—Lucy Ann, a teacher; Carolyn, a teacher and musician who married Walter McGee; Alleen, a teacher and musician who married Charles Dunlap and had a daughter, Dorothy; and Emery (Miss Emery), who was a teacher and the principal of Fort Hill School and then of Morris StreetSchool. In 1966 she married John Allen Baxley, who died two years later.
The house is also unique because it was occupied solely by the Blunt family members from the time it was built until the death of Mrs. Emery Kirby Baxley in 1978. She had willed the house to the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society with the stipulation it be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which was accomplished in 1981. The house is also part of The City of Dalton’s Historic Thornton Avenue District.
An extensive renovation was done in 1988 that included the installation of central heat and air. Most of the furnishings, clothes, books, linens, and objects are original to the house. Donated items must be from the period 1848 to 1978 and are marked according to their source.
Miss Emery’s gift has allowed her to continue teaching through the Historical Society’s docents. We hope she is pleased with our efforts.