It was the most devastating fire in our history, destroying hundreds of buildings and leaving thousands of people homeless, largely in the African American community. And it was 100 years ago on Dec. 1. A large partnership of local organizations has joined to commemorate this tragic fire and has planned a whole weekend of events to help us learn and remember.
The Great Fire Commemoration will consist of four days of events, to include free presentations, free tours of the Great of ’22 exhibit in the Fireman’s Museum and a candlelight vigil. Additionally, Tryon Palace has opened a new exhibit, The Great Fire of New Bern: Images on its 100-year 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 Thursday, Dec. 1st, at 7 p.m., 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. In case of inclement weather, the vigil will be moved to St. Peters’ AME Zion Church. The next day, Dec. 2, the Fire of ’22 exhibit at the Firemen’s Museum will be open for hourly tours free of charge from 9 a.m. to noon. That afternoon at 2 p.m., 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.
Also that day, the Fire of ’22 exhibit will be open again, free of charge for hourly tours from noon to 3 p.m. Registration is required for both the Firemen’s Museum exhibit tour the Saturday evening presentation at the History Center. On Dec. 4 there will be a 10 a.m. Commemorative Service at St. Peter’s AME Zion Church, led by Bishop Kenneth Monroe, and at 5 p.m. a Closing Candlelight Vesper Service at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church.
The Great Fire of 1922 – 100 Year Anniversary
In 1922, the face of New Bern was forever changed. Over three thousand people were displaced in a fire that raged through the African American community, decimating hundreds of structures.
On December 1st through the 4th, community partners across New Bern will be commemorating the Great Fire of 1922 with a series of informative events.
Schedule of Events
All events are free of charge; those with * require advance registration
- Great Fire Commemoration Vigil at 7 p.m. Location is on the corner of Broad and Rountree.
- *Fire of ’22 exhibit at the Firemen’s Museum will be open for hourly tours free of charge from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.*
- Carol Becton’s presentation at St. Peter’s AME Zion Church at 2pm
- *Fire of ’22 exhibit open for hourly tours free of charge from noon to 3 p.m.*
- *Carol Becton’s presentation at Cullman Performance Hall at 7 p.m.*
- 10 a.m. – Commemorative Service at St. Peter’s AME Zion Church, led by Bishop Kenneth Monroe
- 5 p.m. – Closing Candlelight Vesper Service at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church
*Advance reservations required.
Register here for tours 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 & Culture 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, A.M.E.Z New Bern District, North Carolina Conference Eastern NC Episcopal District.
Information provided by Marissa Moore, Programs Director