NEW BERN, NC — It was the most devastating fire in New Bern history, destroying hundreds of buildings and leaving more than 3,000 people homeless, largely in the African-American community.
It was 100 years ago on December 1. A large partnership of local organizations has joined to commemorate this tragic fire and has planned a whole weekend of events to help people learn and remember.
The Great Fire Commemoration will consist of four days of events, including free presentations, free tours of the Great of ’22 exhibit in the Fireman’s Museum, a candlelight vigil, and free trolley tours of the path of the fire. Additionally, Tryon Palace has opened a new exhibit, “The Great Fire of New Bern: Images on its 100th Anniversary,” in the Cannon Gallery at the North Carolina History Center. The exhibit is free to the public and will be on display through January 2023.
The events will start on December 1 with a trolley tour at 2 pm that will take those registered on a tour through New Bern following the path of the fire. That night, at 7 pm, a Great Fire Commemoration Vigil will be held at the corner of Broad and Roundtree Streets, near the site of the origin of the fire. Participants are asked to bring a flashlight.
The next day, December 2, the Fire of ’22 exhibit at the Firemen’s Museum will be open for hourly tours free of charge from 9 am to noon.
To register for the Fire Museum tour follow the link at www.NewBernHistorical.org/great-fire-1922-100th-anniversary/ That afternoon at 2 pm, Carol Becton will give a presentation at St. Peter’s AME Zion Church on the impact of the Great Fire, specifically on the African American community and how the city rebuilt. That presentation will be repeated at Cullman Performance Hall at 7 pm on December 2nd.
Also on Saturday, the Fire of ’22 exhibit will be open again, free of charge for hourly tours from noon to 3 pm. On Sunday afternoon at 3 pm, the trolley will provide free tours following the path of the fire. Registration is required for both the Firemen’s Museum exhibit tour and the trolley tour.
Details for all the weekend events and registration for both tours are at both www.NewBernHistorical.org/great-fire-1922-100th-anniversary/ and www.visitnewbern.com/great-fire-1922/ or call the New Bern Historical Society at 252-638-8558.
This Commemorative Weekend is the result of a partnership of organizations who came together to underscore the importance of remembering this historic event. They are: The African American Heritage & Cultural Center, City of New Bern, Craven County Tourism Development Authority, Earl of Craven Questers, New Bern Fireman’s Museum, New Bern Historical Society, New Bern Tours, St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, St. Peter’s AME Zion Church, Swiss Bear, Tryon Palace, and Uptown Business and Professional Assoc, Inc.