01/25/08 — Deputies looking for clues about fire

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Deputies looking for clues about fire

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 25, 2008 1:46 PM

State investigators encircled the rural home of a turn-of-the-century governor on Thursday afternoon, a small wooden building not far from the high school named after him.

A fire Thursday morning did an undetermined amount of damage to birthplace of Charles B. Aycock, known as the state's "education governor."

Aycock's name was also the subject of controversy in October, when gubernatorial candidate Richard Moore proposed that Aycock's name be disassociated with a namesake state dinner.

Employees at the historic site's visitor's center watched as a cavalcade of law enforcement vehicles exited Thursday around 2 p.m., musing on what the investigators might have found.

They wondered if the recent rains had helped to keep the fire isolated to just the main house, where a large charred hole on one side exhibited the worst of the damage.

The governor's house remained temporarily closed, site manager Leigh Strickland said in a news release.

Law enforcement and fire officials said that a full value of the property damaged would have to wait until the site was fully evaluated.

That included getting artifacts out of the buildings, which include the main house, a seperate open-hearth kitchen and a corn crib and smokehouses, according to a news release.

"Until a comprehensive assessment can be made to the historic structure and the collections within the house, the site will remain temporarily closed to the public," the release states.

The fire was not the first problem for the site in recent months.

In November, officers arrested David Allen Smith, 45, of Bartlett Road. Investigators accused Smith of stealing a sheep named Annabelle from the birthplace with the intention of making a meal of her.