After fire, Shawboro couple rebuilding home


Chris and Jen Pace pose in front of the house they are building, Friday. The new home will replace the one they lost to fire in March.


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Monday, September 25, 2017

SHAWBORO – Half a year after lightning struck their house and caused a fire, a Shawboro couple is rebuilding and hope to be back in their home with their two children by Christmas.

During the rebuilding effort last week, Jennifer Pace expressed gratitude to those who reached out to help her and her husband, Chris. The fire occurred at their family home just off N.C. Highway 34 in Indian Ridge Estates.

"We've received about 65 cards through all of this from people we didn't even know, people we knew," Jennifer Pace said. "And I'm actually framing them and putting them in a shadow box."

She said this will be the focal point in their re-established residence, in memory of everything they and the rest of the family went through and of the generosity of others.

Asked whether she'd like to have a gathering once the work is completed, she said, "We would love to celebrate and invite everybody in the community that's been around and helped us because everybody has supported us."

"It has just been so, so wonderful to see everybody come together for us," she said.

The home site, which is in the 100 block of Olathe Street, is in a modern residential area adjacent to vast table-flat farm fields. The original structure represented the dreams of Chris and Jennifer Pace because he's a home builder and she's a designer.

The fire broke out late the evening of March 1, but the smoke alarms went off in time for the family to evacuate. The Paces have three children, one of whom was away attending East Carolina University at the time of the fire.

Although a neighbor also reportedly called 911 to alert authorities, the Paces were left homeless, with the garage being the only part of the structure still usable.

"It was definitely one of the worst days of our lives, but now looking back, we're OK and we're just picking up the pieces," Jennifer Pace said on a sunny Wednesday morning.

The Paces temporarily lived with a neighbor before moving into a nearby rental home owned by a Shawboro area farmer.

Chris Pace said he had to wait for approval from the family's insurer before proceeding with the rebuilding effort, which started by bringing in a Moyock-based demolition company.

"I think we left three foundation walls and the rest we demoed down," he said.

He said the floor plan is generally the same as the previous residence, but with a few major exceptions.

"The wife got a little bigger closet out of it," he said.

The interior also will include additional space for a breakfast area.

Chris Pace has just turned 50 and his wife is 44. The couple is just past the 21-year mark of their marriage. They also grow oysters in the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach.

Prior to moving to the Shawboro area, the Paces had lived nearly a decade and a half at Knotts Island.

The Paces’ three children include their daughter Chandler, 19 and who’s a student at ECU; their son Austin, 16 and who’s a student at Currituck County High School; and their daughter Macy, 13 and who’s a student at Currituck Middle School.