Contents of historic Patten House on sale to fund home's preservation

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For history buffs, opening boxes of items stored from the historic Patten House is like going through hidden treasure.

As each box was opened, pieces of history began to tell a story. 

"These are old-fashioned pictures that were probably done in the 20s or 30s,"  Joyce Holmes pointed out. "When you touch the paper you can feel how old it is and you can smell. It's like going back when someone was in their tiny house when they were carving out this part of the country."

Holmes joined volunteers with the Judah P. Benjamin Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy as they unpacked items dating back to the Civil War.

It was the beginning of a difficult task. 

The Patten House was built in 1895 by Dudley Patten and eventually became a museum. Over time, termites and water damaged the building. 

The home's contents were moved into storage as the state threatened to rip the Patten House down. 

An outpouring of support from the community saved the house, but $13,000 in storage fees put a strain on the group.

"It's very difficult because once it's gone, it's gone," said Holmes. 

A few items from the Patten family will be saved. The rest must go in a sale; a sale the home's historian, Lela Hartsaw hoped they would never have to do.

"I cried because I thought it seemed so final. It seems like we are giving up. We are not giving up. We are moving these things. When the house is fixed we will get new things," said Hartsaw. "We hope that people will want to take home a piece of history. There are a lot of fascinating things here that have stories to tell."

The Patten House Sale will continue on Saturday, November 10, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's being held at the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, located at 3708 Patten Avenue, Ellenton, Florida. 

Items that are not sold will be donated to the Salvation Army. The group, meanwhile, hopes one day the Patten home will be restored.