At the very heart of Patterson lies an open time capsule—a visual journey through the history of our town. This location contains fragments of the past century, well-preserved for a new generation. What, you might ask, is this place? You likely see it often. It’s the Patterson Museum, located at the center of town; the place where it all began.

The museum was one of the first buildings to ever see the empty farmlands that preceded our busy streets. Circa 1911, it was one of three buildings in the center of town, the other two being a mercantile and the Hotel Del Puerto (now City Hall). It served as town founder Thomas Patterson’s office and the post office. Prospective farmers from around the country would stop by to survey land, then purchase it at the building that now houses the museum.

But now, after being converted to a refuge of history, Patterson’s central building contains pieces of the past. Especially for the younger generations in town, some of the history might be surprising.

For a few decades Patterson was home to a high school that would look more at home on the historic streets of Philadelphia. The pillared porch and marble construction obviously captured the town’s imagination, for the museum contains several pictures and paintings of the edifice. However, in the 1970’s it was torn down due to a lack of earthquake resistance. Now, two pieces of the construction rest in the museum.

One of the most prestigious items the museum boasts is a land grant signed by Abraham Lincoln. The original is locked away for safe keeping, but a copy is displayed on the desk of Thomas Patterson. It bestowed the land upon which Patterson is built to Samuel Reed and Ruben Wade, who held the title for two months before selling it to John Patterson, Thomas Patterson’s father.

Memorabilia from the Hotel del Puerto is also included inside, from vintage pictures of the merry-making to elements from the hotel. A door to the dining room rests against one wall, and tableware is displayed as well.

The Patterson Historical Society, who maintains the property, plans to open the museum Wednesdays starting at 12:30 p.m., and gradually increase the operation times from there. The volume of odds and ends from the past packed into the building are too much to cover in an article; they’re better seen in person, so why not stop by?

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