Aston Park was Asheville’s first truly modern public park. Like Magnolia, Montford, and Pack Square parks, its land was provided by George Willis Pack. At his request, the 11-acre tract was named for Edward J. Aston.
As mayor three times during the decade when the railroad came to Asheville, Aston was determined to transform Court Square from a stockyard to a community resting area with open spaces, benches, and a public water pump. During his tenure, a new courthouse was completed in 1887 that included a third-story opera house with a seating capacity of over 400. His plan to pave the streets around the square was later completed under Mayor Blanton in 1893.
A major advocate of wilderness in the region, Aston is believed to be the first to promote Asheville as a health resort by writing letters and mailing thousands of brochures extolling the mountain air’s benefits for those suffering from tuberculosis or lung disease. He also donated over 200 books from his personal collection to start the local library system.