history of the Goldsboro Fire Department dates to the late 19th
Century, when Goldsboro Fire Company No. 1 was organized in May
1881. Also active at that time was the Eclipse Fire Engine
Company, which was organized several years earlier. Mary Alice,
a third-class Silsby steam engine, was the primary piece of
firefighting apparatus until the arrival of hose wagons after the
installation of a municipal water system around 1885.
By the turn of
the century, the Goldsboro Fire Department had 50 volunteers, a paid
engineer, and three paid drivers. Apparatus included the steamer, a
hook and ladder truck, two hose wagons, and two hand reels. Another
chemical wagon, hose wagon, and hose reel were in reserve.
Goldsboro's first motorized fire engine was delivered in 1913 and
subsequent motor trucks were soon added in 1919 and 1923. The first
full-time Fire Chief was hired in 1929, and the department was
fully-paid by the 1930s.
Old Fire Station
202 East Walnut Street
Opened by 1896 / Closed by
Presently county office space
One of Goldsboro's earliest engine houses was located at 715
Walnut Street, now addressed 202 East Walnut Street.
Built by 1891, the two-story row building opened as a fire
station by 1896. Within five years, the facility had closed
and all fire companies were housed on nearby North John Street.
The Walnut Street building served a variety of purposes in
the early twentieth century, including as a combination grocery store
and beer bottling plant (by 1901), a sewing machine
store (by 1908), and a furniture repair store (by 1911).
The 2,520 square-foot structure presently serves as office
space for a county agency.
Old Station 2
209 East Vine Street
Built by 1918 / Closed by
Presently auto repair shop
Goldsboro's first Station 2 opened north of the city
center on East Vine Street. Built by 1918, the two-story station
first housed a horse-drawn hose wagon equipped with 700
feet of 2 1/2-inch hose.
That year, the fire department had nine paid men and 20
volunteers. One person was on duty at Station 2 at all
By 1928, the station had closed and all fire companies were
housed at the Central Fire Station on North John Street.
By 1943, the Vine Street structure
was serving as a National Guard armory.
Since the 1950s, the 2,442 square-foot facility has been
used as an auto repair establishment.
Old Station 1
109 East Ash Street
Built 1939 / Closed 1976
On April 5, 1939, a new Goldsboro Fire Department
headquarters opened on East Ash Street.
The $50,000 facility was built as a WPA project and included
a five-story training and bell tower in the rear.
With 12,063 square-feet, the Art Deco-designed station was
nearly four times the size of the central fire station on
North John Street.
Apparatus used during its decades of operation included
American LaFrance, Mack, and Seagrave pumpers, a Mack
service truck, and an American LaFrance aerial ladder.
The Goldsboro Rescue Squad also operated from the station.
Formed in 1954, the volunteer organization assumed operation
of a rescue unit that was placed in service one year
In 1976, the facility was closed when the department relocated
to a joint fire and police municipal complex at 204 South
The structure subsequently served a variety of functions
including as an auto shop, a retail shop, and a residence.
Empty in recent years, the building was condemned in 2005
and slated for demolition in early 2006. After a successful
petition drive and a last-minute sale, the historic
structure was spared.
The new owners plan to restore the building.
Old Station 2
1615 East Beech Street
Built 1956 / Closed 2000
Presently transportation facility
Rapid growth in the 1950s saw the opening of a new Station 2
on August 27, 1956. Located on the eastern side of the city,
the new station was staffed by Company Four from the Ash
The $45,000 facility opened with two shifts of four men
operating a 500 GPM pumper and a rescue unit. A 1000 GPM reserve
pumper of pre-war vintage was also housed at the new station.
Though the city provided basic furnishings such as beds,
linens, and kitchen equipment, a radio and television set
were provided by the firefighters with money raised at
In 2000, Station 2 was relocated to 1,900 Royall Avenue. The
3,795 square-foot structure presently serves as a
Goldsboro-Wayne Transit Authority facility.
Sanborn Insurance Map, July 1913
Other early fire department
facilities include the first floor of the old Market House
in the 100 block of East Ash Street. The first floor of the two-story structure was
utilized as an engine house by 1885. A separate 50-foot combination
bell and hose tower was located just east of the structure. The Market House
was demolished before the end of the century. The original Central Fire Station at
127 North John Street was built by 1896. It first served as a hose house addressed 804 North John Street. The
two-story structure was doubled in size by 1901. A bell tower was
added in the rear of the structure by 1908, and a replacement steel
bell tower was added by 1913. After the station was relocated to Ash
Street in 1939, the John Street building was promptly sold. By
1950, the old station served as an auto parts store. It was
subsequently demolished. East of the city's center, the community of Webtown was protected
by the Electric Hose Reel Company. The fire company operated out of a hose
house at 705 Slocomb Street by 1908. It closed by 1918 and the
demolished by 1924.
The Fire Bell
In January 1901, the first
electric-telegraph fire alarm system was installed in Goldsboro. The Gamewell system
was connected to a bell in a tower behind the Mayor's office on East
Walnut Street. When activated, the bell tapped the numbers of the reporting fire box. In 1909, a new alarm bell was
delivered. Cast in 1908 by the McNeely Bell Company of Troy, NY, the
2,000-pound gong was hung in a tower at the rear of Central Fire
Station at 127 North John Street. When the fire
department relocated to Ash Street in 1939, the
bell was also moved to the new building. It continued to ring until 1952, when its worn mechanisms could no longer be
replaced. After the fire department relocated to
South Center Street in 1976, the bell was removed and placed in storage
until an outdoor display stand was completed at the fire station in October 1977.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via
Goldsboro insurance maps from 1885, 1891, 1896, 1901, 1908,
1913, 1918, 1924, and 1950 are available
online. Access requires password available from your local library.
After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps.
Wayne County Public Library
The North Carolina Collection was
consulted for this article, notably vertical files of fire
department information, early city directories on microfilm, and newspaper
clippings on microfilm.