Not long ago, it housed a doll shop, an Edible Fruit Creations store and a well-attended tea room.
Now the historic Peacock Alley building that regularly drew locals and out-of-town visitors inside its brick walls is awaiting reconstruction since it burned on a Sunday morning in October. Owner John Davis, who also owns Affordable Sales and Rentals, said he’s working on getting tenants lined up and doesn’t have a date for when the building will reopen. It used to have about 10 different businesses.
“Obviously, that’s a slow go right now with the economy the way it is, but a lot of people are looking and helping us,” Davis said.
He said he’s talking with several prospective tenants and is working with the Dalton Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown Dalton Development Authority, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce and the Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority to understand what kinds of businesses the community would like to have in the building.
Will the tea room return?
“There will be a restaurant,” Davis said. “It might not be the same restaurant, but it would be a restaurant. As far as I know (the tea room owners) did not go back into business.”
He said he’s still working on setting rental prices. A team from the Fannin Institute at the University of Georgia is helping out with a design for the rebuild, he said, and four different local contractors are pricing the cost of construction.
“We’re just kind of moving slowly and making sure we get some tenants,” Davis said. “(We’re) trying to make sure that they mesh well with the community. We’re very concerned about making sure what we put back in there is a good mix for downtown.”
He said the rebuild will be different than before, but he added that he’s speaking with prospective tenants about what features they might want. None of the previous tenants has committed to coming back, he said.
According to Jennifer Detweiler of the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society, the building used to be Fraker Hardware Store. Detweiler said her research shows that Clarence Fraker operated a general store on the corner of Cuyler and Hamilton streets in 1915. In 1929, he expanded the business by moving across the street and down the block to 311 and 313 S. Hamilton St. into the former Austin Hudson-Essex Sales and Service store front, she said.
An advertisement Fraker’s placed in an Oct. 16, 1947, edition of The Dalton Citizen stated, “In operating a hardware store, we feel that one of the obligations we have to the people of the community which we serve is to handle merchandise of known quality, and so in our store you will find many well-known products of quality at the lowest possible prices.”
Longtime Dalton newspaper editor Mark Pace said he remembers going inside the store now known as Peacock Alley decades ago.
“It was one big store. You could go in and get things on both sides of it,” he said, recalling that it had two entrances. “It was a store that had about everything a person needed, from clothing to dry goods. It even had a restaurant you could eat in in the back of it.”
Detweiler said her research shows Fraker’s was next door to where the Belk-Gallant Co. would later operate.
“For a few years,” she said, “both stores were in operation at the same time. In 1944, the general store closed.”
Peacock Alley is named for a 30-mile corridor down U.S. Highway 41 that includes Dalton and the Ringgold area. Also dubbed the Dixie Highway, the road got its avian nickname from the days when families used to hang tufted bedspreads all along the roadside to sell to passersby. Many of them bore elaborate, colorful peacock designs.