The Davie Street Curse

Most everyone remembers the Davie St fire of 1985 that occurred on April 13th. The fire was in the 300 block of South Davie St. and involved buildings on both sides of the street. The fire damaged, or destroyed, eight structures. Davie Street is one of the oldest streets in the city. This may account for Davie St. experiencing an inordinate amount of serious fires. Take a look at the table below to see some of the more impressive Davie St. fires.







114-116 S. Davie St

Holt Motor Co.



117 S. Davie St

King Cotton Garage/Bargain Box



200 Blk. S. Davie

Rhodes Furniture/ S.T. Wyrick Warehouses



200 Blk. S. Davie St

Modern Café & Meyers Warehouse



300 Blk. S. Davie St.

Dixie Belle and Greensborough Court



Early fire companies in Greensboro were numbered or called by their station affiliation. At the time of the first fire, the city fire department consisted of six stations as follows:

  1. Steamer Co, located at 108 W. Gaston St. (W. Friendly Ave. now)

  2. Hook and Ladder # 1, located at 209 S. Davie St.(Next door to the old Eagle Hose Co. #7)

  3. Southside Hose Co. # 4, located at 414 Asheboro St.

  4. West End Hose Co., located at Walker Ave. and Mendenhall St.

  5. Northside Hose Co, located at Bessemer Ave. and Church St.

  6. Engine Co. # 8, located at 1737 W. Lee St.

The Steamer Co. referred to the engine out of the station at 108 W. Gaston St. (Now W. Friendly Ave.). Even though it was called the Steamer Co., it had been a motorized unit for several years. Hook and Ladder # 1 was at 209 S. Davie St. next to the old Eagle Hose Co. # 7 which was moved to the Northside station when it opened. The Southside Hose Co. #4 was at 414 Asheboro St. and later became Engine #3, then Engine # 4. A document from 1948 confirms this numbering scheme as Engine #3 at the Southside station, but that’s a story for another day. The Northside Hose Co. was at Bessemer Avenue and Church St. It opened on January, 27th 1925.The West End Hose Co. was at its second location of Walker Ave. at S. Mendenhall St. It opened there on October 9th, 1919. The only other fire station in the city was Engine #8 at 1737 W. Lee St.

Shortly before 14:00 hours on 1-25-1926, Box 15 at Jefferson Square was pulled for a fire at 114-116 S. Davie St. The fire was in the Holt Motor Co. and had been burning for some time before the alarm was turned in. The Steamer Co. (Motorized), the Eagle Aerial Ladder (Hook and Ladder #1), The Southside Hose Co., The Northside Hose Co. and the West End Hose Co. responded to this alarm. This left Engine 8 on West Lee St. to cover the city. Heavy smoke was showing on the arrival of the first company. Timbers around the flue had ignited and some tires and automobile tops were damaged. Very little damage was done to the building and the fire was controlled in a few minutes.

The next S. Davie St. fire occurred on Friday, October 20th, 1961 at the King Cotton Hotel Parking Garage. The fire was reported at 00:55 and by 02:30 the five engines and one truck company had the fire under control. Thirty-one cars were destroyed as was the Greensboro Junior League’s Bargain Box store. Flames leapt fifty feet in the air at one point. Forty-five firemen fought the blaze. Engines 1,24,5 and 7 along with Truck 3 and the Power Unit responded to the fire. Newspapers reported this to be a three-alarm blaze.

A little over nine years after the King Cotton Parking Garage fire, a three-alarm fire struck the 200 block of S. Davie St. destroying the Rhodes Furniture Warehouse and damaging the S.T. Wyrick Co. Warehouse. The fire was reported on Thursday, February 11th, 1971 at 20:30 by a Greensboro Police officer who spotted the blaze while on patrol eight blocks away. When firemen arrived, the building was engulfed in flames. Eight engine companies and three truck companies had the fire under control in less than an hour. Damage to the furniture warehouse stock was estimated at $125,000. Intense heat from the fire blistered the paint on one truck company. At the height of the fire, only five fire companies remained in service to cover the rest of the city. The Pinecroft-Sedgefield and Guilford College fire departments sent trucks to cover empty city stations. They responded to a house fire on Florida St., which turned out to be a minor incident.

On Tuesday, November 6th, 1973 another major fire struck the 200 block of S. Davie St. Once again, the fire was discovered by a police officer who turned in the alarm at 23:20.This fire involved the Meyers Department store warehouse and the Modern Café. Initially, two or more persons were thought to be trapped inside. One man, who was sleeping in the warehouse, was rescued from the second story ledge by firemen. By 00:30, the firemen were getting the fire under control. There is no mention of the units assigned, but a typical three-alarm fire in this time period received six engines and two to three truck companies.

The largest fire to ever strike Greensboro occurred on Saturday, April 13th, 1985 in the 300 block of S. Davie St. A passing motorist saw fire in a warehouse and called the fire department at 22:53. The initial dispatch consisted of Engines 4, 7 and 2 along with Truck 4 and Car 2. Squad 2 was unavailable for dispatch as it was assigned to a medical call at the time. Three minutes later, Engine 4 arrived and reported heavy smoke showing. Both Engines 4 and 2 laid dual feeder lines and Engine 7 was instructed to standby a hydrant, and, after receiving orders, laid dual feeder lines. Car two requested dispatch of truck 5 and Squad 1 to assist with ventilation efforts. The fire continued to intensify and an exterior attack was recommended at 23:06. One minute later, Car 2 requested a second alarm and Engines 5 and 11 were dispatched. A backdraft occurred and Car 2 declared a, “Signal 0”. Multiple EMS units were dispatched to the scene. A third alarm was requested and Engines 6 and 8 along with Truck 1 and Squad 3 were dispatched. Shortly after the backdraft, fire was spotted on the top floor of the Greensborough Court apartments across the street from the initial fire building. In less than ten minutes that entire three-story structure was on fire. This fire now became a major threat to a large portion of downtown Greensboro. Six more Greensboro companies were dispatched to the scene along with mutual aid from the Alamance Fire Department and Fire District 14. Only six companies remained in service to respond to other calls in the city. The Pleasant Garden Fire Department and the Pinecroft-Sedgefield Fire Department covered vacated Greensboro stations and provided assistance at the scene. Nine Greensboro Firefighters received minor injuries. The fire was declared under control at 02:36. Six days after the fire, a body was discovered in one of the fire buildings on the east side of the street. This fire received national attention due to an article published in Firehouse Magazine® by Battalion Chief of Training Brad Cox.

Reviewing these article provides a glimpse into the fire activity provided by the southern portion of one of Greensboro’s oldest streets. The fire seemed to move south from the 100 block of S. Davie St. through the 200 block and eventually to the 300 block, where the largest fire to date occurred.

Not to be left out, there were two fires in the old Daily News building on North Davie St. in the 1970s, more on that in the future.

 King Cotton Garage Fire October, 20th, 1961

Rhodes Furniture Fire February 11th, 1971

Modern Cafe Fire November 6th, 1973

300 Blk. S. Davie St. April 13th, 1985

300 Blk. S. Davie St. April 13th, 1985

300 Blk. S. Davie St. April 13th, 1985

300 Blk. S. Davie St. April 13th, 1985

300 Blk. S. Davie St. April 13th, 1975