History of the Dalton-Bell-Cameron House

On Johnson Street, another good collection of Art & Crafts homes, Carter Dalton had deep roots in High Point. His grandfather was founder of the first Presbyterian Church in 1859, and his father was an early partner in the Snow Lumber Co., one of High Point’s first industries.

Carter Dalton continued his family’s tradition of community involvement as a lawyer, starting practice around 1913. In August of that year, Dalton purchased a lot in the new Johnson Street development and soon after married Mary Drew Land.

The home the Daltons decided to build was quite progressive for High Point in 1914. other homes built in town at the time were more traditional, with Colonial or Victorian influences.

The Dalton’s home, by contrast, was quite exotic with influences from Asia and Europe. The home featured a base of Mount Airy granite and was covered with naturally stained clapboards and wood shingles. The home’s exposed rather ends and structural brackets demonstrated Japanese architectural traditions. Inside, features included handcrafted tiles around the fireplace and intricate patterned wood floors.

In choosing Craftsman architecture for their home, the Daltons were making a bold statement. First and foremost, the honestly and integrity of Craftsman homes said much for the inhabitants. Owners of these homes were often no-nonsense people who preferred to steer away from the frivolities of Victorian architecture. With Craftsman home, a person was stating that they were practical, efficient and honest – all qualities necessary of a lawyer or politician – or furniture maker for that matter.

The Carter Dalton house sat derelict and was threatened with demolition throughout the 1990’s before being purchased by ambitious preservationist Mary Powell Young in 1996. Extensive restorations were completed in 1998, and today the Carter Dalton House once again stands as a jewel of the Johnson Street Historic District.

Throughout the first floor, grandeur and subdued opulence are prevalent. The library features a wood painted ceiling which includes the makers marks of many of the artisans who built the home. This room was originally designed as a billiard room, but when Sarah became disenchanted with the cigar smoke and noise, she moved the men to the lower level. The fireplace was imported from Europe and includes a mantle with carvings depicting the four seasons. The living room is a large and majestic space with black walnut paneled walls and elaborately carved fireplace mantle and surround.

The dining room has one of the six fireplaces in the home, plus 23 carat gold leaf, recently restored, on the elaborate plaster moldings. Hidden behind a decorative door is the silver vault, one of four vaults in the house. Only the butler and Mr. Fisher had the combination to these vaults.

The breakfast room was Chinese inspired with a lattice ceiling and black chinoiserie paintings. After WWII, when Asian influences fell out of favor, the art was painted over although some have been recently restored.

The glass walled sun room features an elaborate white Italian marble fountain and Flint Faience tiles. The tiles are unique as they were manufactured by the Champion Spark Plug Company. Company owner Albert Champion realized that the kilns used to produce porcelain spark plug caps could be damaged when turned off at night. So instead he used the kilns in off-hours to produce colorful tiles which found their way into the homes of many GM executives, although they can also be found as far away as the Presidential Palace of Peru. By 1933, the demand for spark plugs mirrored the demand for automobiles, and Champion was no longer able to continue its tile production.

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