Local News

Perdue to honor those who saved historic home

Posted May 13, 2009 5:35 a.m. EDT

— Gov. Beverly Perdue will honor the volunteer firefighters and law enforcement officers who saved the 19th century family home of Gov. Charles B. Aycock from a fire that was intentionally set more than a year ago.

Perdue will present them with a proclamation of appreciation Wednesday for saving the house, which is a state historic site located near Fremont in Wayne County. The ceremony will be held in the Governor's Office in the State Capitol Building in Raleigh.

The fire broke out Jan. 24, 2008. Officials said at the time that the alarm system and rapid response of local fire departments and the Wayne County Sheriff's Department kept the fire confined to the main house's parlor, back porch and loft.

A Victorian turntable was the only original Aycock family piece lost. Damage was estimated at more than $200,000.

James Sean Suggs, 37, was charged with burning state or local government property. He was already serving time in the Pender County Correctional Facility for a separate offense.

Durwood Eugene Smith III, 17, of 502 Wooten St. in Fremont, was arrested on a similar charge.

Aycock was born in the house near Fremont in 1859. He was elected governor in 1900 and focused on improving public education in North Carolina. Critics have claimed he promoted segregation and white supremacy.