People and Places: Caswell Fire Museum

People and Places

Nestled beside the Lenoir County Court House sits Kinston’s original fire station, now the Caswell No. 1 Fire Station Museum, built in 1895.

“It’s the oldest remaining masonry structure in Kinston,” said David Ricke, the museum’s curator. 

Back then, the building became a necessity.

“In 1895, the city of Kinston didn’t have a fire department, and they had a large fire that basically devastated the whole town,” Ricke said. “They had to telegraph New Bern and New Bern had to put their steamer on a rail car to ship it up here and help fight the fire.”

Much of Kinston’s firefighting history from then until the present is on display at the museum. 

“Fire department memorabilia, in terms of equipment and stuff that’s been used over the years,” said Ricke. “Also, we have a 1922 LaFrance Pumper, which was the original gasoline pumper first used here in Kinston.”

There are plenty of fascinating things for firefighting fanatics at the museum. And for the kids, there’s Truckie, a full-blooded Dalmatian. 
   
“He’s my sidekick and mascot,” said Ricke. “And he’s usually down here on weekends I’m down here as curator.”

Besides being cute, Truckie helps teach kids about fire safety.

For Ricke, it’s important to pass on the memories and the heritage of the fire service, but it was one man who was instrumental in making the fire station museum happen back in 1993.

“Guy Basden was a big part of the founding of this museum.,” Ricke said. “And he kept it going through his own blood, sweat and tears over the years. He supported the fire service and this museum with his whole heart.”

Sadly, Basden passed away on August 15.

But thanks to Basden, 125 years of Kinston firefighting history lives on.

You can see Truckie and all the museum has to off when they are open, which is most Saturdays. 

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