One of the more unusual tales of a haunting in Charlotte involves Old Fire Station 4 on West Fifth Street, a rare case in which the name of the ghost and how he died is at the heart of the story.
On April 4, 1934, firefighter Black was reportedly heading out of the station on a fire call. Folklore has it that he was headed to the pole to slide down and slipped, falling from the second floor. He died on impact, so the story goes. Visitors have reported smelling Black’s cigar smoke in the station, among other disconcerting events.
The web site GoCarolinas.Com now lists it among “The 7 Most Haunted places in Charlotte.” Apparently, it’s not unusual to find one or more haunted fire stations in cities around the country, reports the website FireRescue1.com.
“Patients pass away in the ambulances, and firefighters die in the line of duty. Sometimes these spirits linger, and those that do make their presence known. This is especially true for these haunted firehouses,” according to a 2014 story by FireRescue1.
The online publication CharlotteAgenda recently “fact checked” the Fire Station 4 story and reported: “There is in fact a Pruett L. Black buried in Elmwood Cemetery. According to biographical information at Find a Grave, he died April 1, 1934, when he slipped and fell from the top floor of Fire Station No. 4. It seems reasonable that a firehouse would smell like smoke though, right?”
The station is a squat, red brick building that served uptown until 1972, when it was replaced by a new fire station at 525 North Church St.
The building has been adapted several times for other uses, including a storage site for the city sanitation department and offices, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fire Museum until 2009. It also factored into the FBI sting that netted former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon. In 2012 and 2013, an undercover agent solicited Cannon’s help navigating bureaucracy to get a business started there.
The Observer reported in May that the building has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.