JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A century-old building will continue to serve the community.

On Thursday, the Brigade Boys & Girls Club of Onslow County donated a historic space to the United Way. The building first served as the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire House. Now, it will serve to assist during natural disasters and feed children throughout the community.

There are currently two buildings that the United Way of Onslow County utilizes. United Way of Onslow County President Raquel Painter said they are running out of space, which prompted the move.

“This building provides United Way an opportunity to expand our programs, especially our to program when we’re feeding the children and now more than never, ever the need is needed,” Painter said.

This upgrade will help them reach more people in the community. Painter said they are grateful for the generous donation.

“To get this from our partner agency is just a blessing on top of a blessing,” Painter said.

The building itself will continue to be significant to Onslow County, Painter said.

“There’s so much history in this building. I mean, it used to be the first town hall fire department and police station,” Painter said.

Board members of the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Department attended the ceremony and reminisced on the time they shared there.

“A lot of memories, a lot of friends. Exciting time for us,” said Larry Cribb, a board member with the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Department.

“My father and a lot of city council meeting that have passed away spent a lot of time up here and it’s it’s a sad way that they couldn’t be here to see this building carry on for the community,” said Mandy Daughtry, chairman of the board of directors for the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Department.

United Way plans to be there for years to come. Painter said they hope to have all the renovations complete and be in the new space sometime next year.

Below is a press release with more information about the building and the donation.

=====

The Brigade Boys and Girls Club of Onslow County is donating a historic building to United Way of Onslow County. United Way of Onslow County will use the building to expand its community resources.

The building will consolidate two locations into one central location for United Way of Onslow County’s community services. It’s CHEW (Children Healthy Eating on Weekends) Program is at maximum capacity in its currently location. The newly donated building will allow the CHEW program to help more food-insecure children in Onslow County. The Volunteer Resource Center will also benefit from the expansion of building space.

Currently, the Volunteer Resource Center is responsible for setting up during disasters or community emergencies to assist in the coordination of volunteers helping in the disaster recovery and relief efforts. The Volunteer Resource Center plays a huge roll after a natural disaster strikes, in the case of Hurricane Florence, where many outside agencies came to Onslow County to assist. The Volunteer Resource Center is the hub of the coordination efforts.

“United Way of Onslow County is immensely grateful for collaborative partnerships, like that of Brigade Boys and Girls Club,” United Way of Onslow County President, Raquel Painter states, “The partnership is a powerful example of nonprofits using its resources to work alongside one another to amplify the community’s access to and effectiveness of our community work”.

The building was built sometime in the 1940s to use as the Jacksonville Volunteer Firehouse a cost of $20,000. The City paid for $8,000 of that construction and shared the building as the location for City Hall and for the Jacksonville Police Department. The volunteer firefighters and their wives raised the remaining $12,000 through bake sales, carnivals and donations.

Before MCB Camp Lejeune was established in the early 1940s, the City’s population was around 850, so the Chaney Ave building was suitable to support the needs of the small community.

The Chaney Ave building quickly became too small for Police, Fire and City hall to share as Jacksonville’s population rapidly grew due to the establishment of MCB Camp Lejeune and influx of military moving in and workers coming to build on base. The downtown residential area by Wilson Bay (Bayshore Community) emerged as a result of that population boom.

In 1956, the City moved to a new larger building that housed City Hall, Fire Station 1 and the Police Department. The building used from 1956-2014, mostly for fire and police, has since been demolished was located on the property of the current Center For Public Safety.

The Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Department did not move out of Chaney Ave and continued to use the building as its headquarters. They served the community for 93 years to assist the City in fighting fires throughout the City.

“In October of 2019, the Board of the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Dept voted to donate their historic building to The Brigade Boys & Girls Clubs of Onslow County, in hopes of helping us serve Our Kids in a more centralized setting. After exhausting all measures in attempts at doing just that, we decided that the best thing, in keeping with JVFD’s spirit of generosity towards the overall good of the community, would be to do a ‘like kind’ transaction with The United Way. We are thrilled to have accomplished this, through the tireless efforts of our County Executive, Keith Williams and Raquel Painter, Director of United Way. We are so appreciative of The United Way and the wonderful service they provide to non-profits in Onslow County and feel they will be able to utilize this wonderful donation of the great members of the former JVFD to the fullest”. Bill Mercer, Chairman of Onslow Brigade Boys & Girls Advisory Board

The United Way of Onslow County will start the renovation process in the coming months. United Way is also providing the community an opportunity to purchase sponsorships to help in the renovation cost. A company, business, families can sponsor a room in the newly renovated building. If interested, please reach out to United Way of Onslow County at 910.347.2646 or admin@uwonslow.org