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Ask 13: What's the story behind the newly uncovered ad in downtown Asheville?

The newly discovered ad was painted on an old brick building on Page Avenue, across from the Grove Arcade. The ad was for Dillard Realty Company, established in 1922. This business was started by the man who built this building. His name was James Dillard. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Downtown Asheville has seen a lot of demolition and reconstruction. One of those projects has opened a window to the past and revealed a very old ad on the side of a building.

The newly discovered ad was painted on an old brick building on Page Avenue, across from the Grove Arcade.

"I was driving through downtown Asheville and saw a cool sign on the side of a building that had been newly revealed due to the building next to it being torn down, across from the Civic Center," Pam Rogers wrote to Ask 13. "Do you think it will be preserved because of its age, and what happened to that realty company?"

The ad is for Dillard Realty Company, established in 1922. The business was started by the man who built this building. His name was James Dillard.

The building is currently home to The Captain's Bookshelf, but Dillard Realty was once a thriving business in Asheville, according to folks at the Old Buncombe County Genealogical Society.

"Mr. James Crawford Dillard started that real estate company in 1922," Sandy Samz said. "He came to Asheville because he was an injured veteran in Word War I and was at the veterans hospital and went into business in this company."

The company was later handed down to his nephew, Richard Dillard, when James passed away.

In his obituary, he's credited with developing Lake View Estates, Grove Wood Park and Sunset Mountain Estates.

His nephew ran the business until he passed away in 1988. The company went out of business a short time later.

Richard Dillard's son is a famous poet who lives in Swannanoa. Gaven Dillard had a professional photographer from Andrew Wayne Photography capture some photos of him in front of the building when the old ad was recently revealed.

He said he has many fond memories spending time at Uncle Jimmy's business as a child.

If you have a question you'd like answered, write to Ask13@wlos.com

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