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Paul Franklin Patterson 1948

Some readers may be surprised to learn that one of the oldest commercial buildings in Brevard that is still standing is Paul’s Produce Stand, currently El Ranchero Mexican restaurant. Despite its humble outer appearance, this building is over a century old and has seen a myriad of uses over the years.

Built in 1925, it is a one-story frame structure with an oversized shed porch on one side. Although but one story, the foundation pillars for the structure are quite tall to accommodate closeness to a steep decline in the landscape. It has hardwood floors that are original to its first construction. There were two small dwellings that were built at the same time next to the original building that were removed sometime after 1945. A small office building was constructed between 1931 and 1945 that is no longer there either.

Paul’s Produce building was originally an auto repair business run by a Mr. Harris. Although one source suggested that the building was constructed earlier as a movie theater, property tax records do not show this. The auto repair facility is the first documented use. This building is part of the comprehensive architectural survey conducted by the county in 1990 and 1991, and is listed there as Harris Service Station, indicating official recognition as the original use and owner.

Paul’s Produce 1991

Charlie McCrary was the next to run a business out of the location with a truck transfer company in the 1930s. McCrary appears to have operated the business earlier in a different location, so the exact years of the enterprise in the Harris Service Station location are uncertain.

Leslie Coleman operated a tire recapping business next. This was a way for customers to extend the life of their tires by having the treads refurbished. This venture operated through the 1950s and at an undetermined time faded out to be replaced by Rhett Talley’s Talley Produce in 1962.

The longest running business in the location is Paul’s Produce. Harold Patterson had been in the produce business for many years without a storefront before purchasing the building and setting up shop in 1967. It was named after Harold’s son Paul, and they worked together from this point forward in the business until Harold passed away in 1984. Paul continued the business afterward until 2000.

Paul Franklin Patterson was born in Henderson County, NC in 1929 to Harold Patterson and Lora Hamilton Patterson. The family moved to Brevard when he was young, and Paul grew to be very active in his community. As a student, he was a football player, the captain of the debate team, on the competitive square-dancing team and played steel guitar in a band called The Drifters, who were locally popular at the time. As the years went on, he continued to both dance and play music at square dances and many other venues.

After graduating from Brevard High School, Paul worked at Ecusta in various jobs and was active in the social scene there too. He was often featured in The Echo employee magazine for winning at bowling, both individually and in pairs. The Echo also shows him as a member of the Ecusta String Band. He married first wife Opal Breedlove of Jackson County in 1951 but had no children from that union.

Paul was active in the Army Reserves and rose in the ranks over time from Private to Corporal to Sergeant. He was a leading officer in August 1953 when Transylvania County reserves were called to train at Fort Jackson, SC and was sent in advance to prepare for their arrival. He was often called into duty in the 1950s and was stationed in Paris, France in 1956.

Upon returning to the U.S. Paul lived in the Gatlinburg, TN area for several years, divorced, and remarried. He met and married Jo Ann Vance of Sevierville, TN and moved back home where the couple raised their three children Jeff, Sherri Ann, and Jody Lynn. The produce store began during this time as well. Paul continued to operate Paul’s Produce until 2000 and passed away just a few years later in 2004.

In 2000 the building was sold to Marion Boatwright, who operated a live music venue for a couple of years called Weasel’s, after a nickname his bandmates gave the musician. Some cosmetic changes happened to the exterior of the building during this time, including large whiskey barrels cut in half adhered to the exterior in a whimsical style.

The next venture was Sammy’s, a restaurant named after the daughter of the new owners, Keith and Tracy Morrison, that lasted from 2003-2004. The final resident of the building is El Ranchero Mexican restaurant, who have been in the location since 2005 and are still going strong.

Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History Librarian Laura Sperry. Sources available upon request. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820. 

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212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712