Documents discovered a year ago at the historic Patton-Parker House in Asheville have a new home. Property owner and attorney Jim Siemens has donated them to the Pack Memorial Library in downtown Asheville.
When I visited the Patton-Parker House at Charlotte and Chestnut streets a year ago, there was all kinds of work being done on the home. It was that work on the home of Thomas Patton, a civil war hero who returned to Asheville and whose name is most familiar today for locals because of downtown’s Patton Avenue, that led an electrician to a remarkable find.
“I’m German Martinez. We cut some holes and we found this stuff. We found a lot of history for Asheville.”
A lot of history for Asheville. What Martinez stumbled upon was a trove of documents from Patton detailing various tidbits of history. The owner of the property, local attorney Jim Siemens, stood up on a stepladder to show me the secret compartment that was uncovered.
Siemens laid out the various documents for me and went over some of his favorites, snapshots of the Pattons and the movers and shakers of an earlier Asheville.
Jim Siemens: “What it chronicles is an engagement in life that is mutli-faceted. He’s a solider. He’s interested in religion. He’s a hustler. He’s making money in a lot of different ways. If he’s involved with the Asheville club, then he likes to socialize. Fascinating character.”
Those discoveries sent Siemens on a quest to discover more. He had help also from his girlfriend Deborah Haft.
Siemens: “It’s certainly deepened my appreciation for the town’s history. And it’s helped me think about what’s important, what the true Asheville is. We have a lot of attraction and a lot of tourism and people are coming for a lot of different things, which I enjoy too. But there’s a more deep and resonant Asheville that we’re discovering.”
Now those documents have been donated to the North Carolina room at Pack Memorial Library, where they’re being processed with the goal of making them available to the public. For BPR News, I’m Jeremy Loeb.
*Editor's note: Jim Siemens' firm, the Siemens Family Law Group, is an underwriter for Blue Ridge Public Radio.