Kinston Former Firehouses

Part I - Published in 2006

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In early 1895, a pair of devastating fires sparked an improvement in Kinston's firefighting forces. The river city purchased a Silsby steam engine and 2,000 feet of hose for its volunteer firefighters. Called Caswell No. 1, the steamer and a homebuilt hose reel were stored in a newly constructed engine house on the county courthouse lot. Both pieces of apparatus were hand-drawn at first, though two horses and a hose wagon were added the next year.

In 1897, Kinston's first water main was installed. In 1898, a hand-pulled hook and ladder wagon was purchased and staffed by members of the black community. In 1904, a new fire department was organized. Named Caswell Fire Company No. 1, their initial equipment consisted of three horses and two wagons. In 1908, a second fire company was formed to supplement the Caswell Company. The East Kinston Hose Reel Company operated a hand-pulled reel.

An electric telegraph fire alarm system with 25 boxes was installed in 1913; the first motorized piece of fire apparatus, a 750 GPM pumper, was purchased in 1918. Ten years later, the first full-time fire chief was hired.


Old Station 1

118 South Queen Street
Opened 1895 / Closed 1937
Presently museum and offices

Kinston's first fire station and first brick building was completed in 1895 on South Queen Street.

By 1901, the station also served as City Hall. The second floor housed the town offices and hose and bell tower had been added in the rear with a jail underneath.

By 1904, the station housed the Caswell Fire Company No. 1 after its formation that year. 

By 1908, a single-story room beside the building had been added as sleeping quarters for firemen.

In 1937, both the fire department and the town offices relocated to 106 West King Street.

Continuously used since 1895 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building presently houses a fire museum downstairs and government offices upstairs

Seven fire hydrants from different time periods are displayed outside the building.


Old Station 1

106-110 West King Street
Opened 1937 / Closed 1962
Presently offices

In 1937, both Station 1 and City Hall relocated to 106 West King Street. The fire department occupied the far right side of the building.

By 1948, the fire alarm system was housed in the jail building behind City Hall.

In 1962, both Station 1 and City Hall relocated to 203 East King Street. The new City Hall was dedicated on October 18, 1962.

The 10,920 square-foot former municipal building presently serves as office space.


Old Station 2

104 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Opened after 1930 / Closed 1993
Presently career center

In March 1914, a new engine house was completed at 104 North Tiffany Street for the East Kinston Hose Reel Company. They were currently housed in the 700 block of East Caswell Street.

After 1930, their two-story wooden station was replaced by a single-story brick building at the same location. After 1948, the building was expanded to include sleeping quarters in the rear.

In later decades, the station also housed an engine and tanker that responded to calls in the county. The tanker was housed in an adjoining metal shed.

In 1993, Station 2's 1979 American LaFrance pumper overturned on South Queen Street. As the pumper was the last piece of apparatus that could fit inside the building, Station 2 was closed the same day.

The building is presently used as a career center.


Old Station 3

1916 West Vernon Avenue
Opened 1961  / Closed 1998
Presently car stereo shop

Two identical fire stations were opened in 1961, Station 3 at 1916 West Vernon Avenue and Station 4 at 200 North Plaza Avenue. Both were single-story brick structures.

Station 3 replaced a single-story structure at 708 North Heritage Street that was built in [1945] and later replaced by a parking lot.

In 1998, a new Station 3 opened at 2207 Hull Road in a facility built by firefighters. The 3,117 square-foot former station is presently a car stereo shop.

Central Fire Station

Kinston's Central Fire Station at 203 East King Street, opened in 1962 along with the adjacent City Hall building, is slated for replacement in coming years. Lot locations under consideration include near Grainger Stadium off East Vernon Avenue. Central Fire Station is two-story facility with four apparatus bays facing East King Street and a fifth apparatus bay facing the rear. The building also houses the fire department's administrative offices.



Kinston Fire Department
Kinston-Lenoir Public Library
A book about the Kinston Fire Department was published in 1981. Search the Library Catalog for keywords "Kinston Fire"
Lenoir County IMS
Building information is available for most parcels of land in Lenoir County, including square footage and a sketch of the structure.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via NC LIVE
Kinston insurance maps from 1896, 1901, 1908, 1914, 1925, 1930, and 1948 are available online. Access requires password available from your local library. After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps.

The Series

High Point
New Bern
Rocky Mount / Wilson


A version of this article was published on on January 23, 2006.

Part II - Updated in 2016

See more photos

Relocated Fire Stations

Old Station 1

203 E. King Street
1962 to 2008
In 2008, a new Station 1 opened at 421 E. Vernon Avenue. The 16,000 square-foot structure included six drive-through apparatus bays. The fire station was previously housed with the police department in a building adjoining City Hall. The fire department's section of the structure was subsequently remodeled, including the removal of the front-facing apparatus doors.

Photographed in May 2012

Old Station 3

2207 Hull Road
1998 to 2012
This was a two-section building located on a 0.8 acre parcel, and largely built by fire department personnel. Firefighters went to the site and worked on the structure during their shifts. They constructed about eighty-five percent of the building, with specialty contractors completing the rest.
In the summer of 2012, Station 3 was relocated to a new facility at 1247 Hill Farm Road. This was one of two identical 5,900 square-foot structures. Each had two drive-through bays, priva203te sleeping quarters for twelve people, two offices, and a combination training room and eat-in kitchen. Plus associated equipment and storage rooms.
The buildings were designed by Davis Kane Architects. They were funded with $2.8 in USDA Rural Development loans and grants, to replacing the older stations, and provide better coverage for the Global TransPark via the new Station 2 and the growing Highway 70 West Industrial Park via the new Station 3.
The Hull Road fire station has remained vacant, and was for sale as of January 2016.

Photographed in May 2012

Old Station 4

202 Plaza Boulevard
1961 to 2012
This one-story structure had 3,257 total square-feet on a 0.74 acre parcel. In the summer of 2012, a new Station 2 opened at 3428 Carey Road. The personnel and apparatus from relocated to the new Carey Road fire station. The Plaza Boulevard fire station was purchased by a security company, for use as a storage and support facility.

Photographed in May 2012

Original Station 3

1942 to 1945
Knott's Warehouse
Northwest corner of East Washington and North McLewean streets, note Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
The News & Observer on July 26, 1942, reported that Kinston's third fire station was a reality on that day. Residents in the north suburbs had sought the station for more than a decade. The station was located in Knott's warehouse and was manned by firefighters Jesse Conway and William Hoover. It had "one large truck and booster truck and chemical facilities." The station would protect the northern third of the city, where "many attractive residences" were located. Owners of the warehouse donated the building's use until "conditions permit building a fire station" after the war.
On Thursday, July 12, 1945, the Kinston Fire Department held a house-warming party for a new Station 3 on Heritage Street. Firemen hosted city officials and a few guests with a fish stew. Auxiliary Fire Chief Claude Chamberlain led the event. The Kinston Auxiliary Fire Department had some 30 volunteers “trained in wartime emergency firefighting and rescue work.” It was noted that the squad would continue as a “permanent peacetime unit.” Source: News & Observer, July 19, 1945, 

Renovated Former Fire Stations

Old Station 3 at 1916 West Vernon Avenue has been extensively renovated and largely rebuilt as a drive-through credit union. The building is now numbered 1910 West Vernon Avenue. The building formerly housed a car stereo shop.

Apparatus Accident in 1993

These photos accompanies the history of old Station 2 as listed above: "In 1993, Station 2's 1979 American LaFrance pumper overturned on South Queen Street. As the pumper was the last piece of apparatus that could fit inside the building, Station 2 was closed the same day."




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