The Blunt House, completed in 1848, is the second oldest house in Dalton. 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 Whitfield County from Murray County.
Ainsworth Emery Blunt (1800-1865) was born in Amherst, New Hampshire, and traveled to the area to serve as a missionary to the Cherokees at Brainerd Mission. When the Cherokees traveled the Trail of Tears, 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 the Brainerd mission. 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 and began building a house for his family.
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.
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 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.
The Blunt House is owned and operated by the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society.