"This house has had a lot of history, and it's really sad to watch it lose its life like this," said local historian Andrew Mackie who watched firefighters battle the blaze. "This was a landmark. It's on the county Register of Historic Places. Everybody knew where it was. It is really sad to see this house disappear like this. It was our anchor on Main Street.
"It's bad. I grew up right over there," said Linda Mason Kinley pointing towards her own home. She also watched as firefighters attempted to save the historic home. “It's really sad to see it. I think the fire department's great. They do a really good job."
According to local law enforcement officials, the fire appears to have started in the home’s electrical fuse panel, which the family renting the home reported problems with earlier in the morning, Yadkinville Police Department Assistant Chief Patrick Long said.
Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at 7:22 a.m. As the first Yadkinville Volunteer Fire Department trucks arrived, the home was already fully engulfed in flames.
Volunteer fire departments from, Forbush, Boonville, West Yadkin, the Yadkinville Rescue Squad, Yadkin County EMS, the Yadkinville Police, the Yadkin County Sheriff's Department and the Yadkin County fire marshal assisted with the blaze and the investigation into the fire’s cause.
The fire was brought under control after about two hours. Once the structure was safe to enter, its owner Gorrell Prim requested the fire marshal attempt to determine if the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in the home’s fuse box.
There was no evidence inconsistent with electrical malfunction, and the exact cause of the fire is unknown, the department reported.
The occupant and the children were in the home at midnight when the power went out, and the fuse was extremely hot, according to the police report.
The occupants were Cheyvonne Hooper with Maiya Stokes and Hooper’s children, according to the police report.
“They went to Food Lion to get another fuse but were unable to find one,” the report showed. “The family awoke again at 1 a.m. and smelled smoke, like something was burning but could not locate anything. At 3 a.m. they smelled smoke again inside and outside the residence but could not find anything. At 3:30 a.m. the family left the residence and went to Stokes’ home. Hooper and Stokes learned of the fire about 7:30 a.m.”
“The property owner requested that an electrical cause and origin be confirmed,” the report showed. Assistant Fire Chief Doss told Assistant Police Chief Capt. P.L. Long on the phone that his assistance was needed for the cause and origin.
“I asked for Fire Marshal (Eddie) Weatherman to come by and assist me since he was near town,” Long wrote. “After a thorough inspection of the home and interview of witnesses, the fire was determined non-intentional with no indications of arson. Electrical malfunctions could not be ruled out. No incident report was generated since no apparent crime occurred.”
"The fire origin appeared to be near an electrical fuse panel," police said.
Prim’s son Clinton, was also saddened to see the home burn.
"His neighbor called me. We got here about 7:25, and the middle was ablaze," Clinton said.
"It has a lot of history to it. It actually was in Frances Casstevens' last book of ghost stories,” said Clinton.
“I remember the big rocking chair. It's got a great stairwell. You could see everything on the front porch. It's sad obviously. I'm glad nobody was hurt, and everyone's okay," said Clinton referring to the family that was renting and living in the home at the time of the blaze.
The local chapter of the Red Cross assisted the family with temporary living arrangements.
Gorrell’s daughter Joi Prim also watched as the home burned. "It's still probably a little bit of shock. My grandmother is from the Holton family. It was her parents who owned this house before they passed on, and then she inherited it."
For Mackie, a valuable piece of Yadkinville and Yadkin County has been lost.
"We've lost a landmark," said Mackie while standing in the in the front yard. "The house was built about 150 years ago as a grog shop. That's where you went to get a drink of alcohol. It was facing this way to the east. This was the original town limits.
"You weren't allowed to sell alcohol in the original town limits, so they built a grog shop outside the city limits. After that period of time, the house was bought by Mr. Joyce and turned and facing this way. It was a residence ever since.
"Mr. Joyce was a prominent person who lived in town," Mackie said. "He owned it, and then the Holtons bought it, a prominent attorney. Then when he passed away, the daughter inherited the house. It's now a rental house. We've had street parties here.
"We've watched the house go through several transformations. It was an arts place for people to learn how to do art. The Yadkin Arts Council had its headquarters here for a while. They had an art gallery here. This was right before they moved and acquired the arts center downtown.
"This house has had a lot of history, and it's really sad to watch it lose its life like this," Mackie said. "This was a landmark. It's on the county Register of Historic Places. Everybody knew where it was. It is really sad to see this house disappear like this. It was our anchor on Main Street.
"The Williams House up here has just been leased out to a woman who is going to open a coffee shop and a gift store, and that house is being saved for another generation. You can just look at how wide the boards are."
The house’s history has been well documented.
It all began when Sarah D. Stone Joyce (1800-1989) bought 10 acres from Oliver P. Hough in 1854 for $600. An architectural survey was done in 1986, “Historical Architecture of Yadkin County, North Carolina” by the Yadkin County Historical Society.
“O.P. Hough is listed in the 1850 census as being a hatter, some say this designation included those who hunted and trapped for skins which hats were made of,” the history reported. “He came from the Hamptonville area. Records show he had land on Hunting Creek.”
The study reported that he was probably related to the Hough who bought Josiah Cowles’ tin shop at Hamptonville, which was next to the old Hampton home.
“Sarah Joyce came here a widow from Rockingham County with her sons, including W.A. Joyce (1832-1867), a graduate of the University of Chapel Hill who served as Deputy Clerk of Court and as a Lt. Colonel in the Yadkin County Regiment of the N.C. Militia. He is a character in the Ben Ames Williams’ Civil War novel ‘House Divided.’
“In the novel, Joyce is told of the shootout at Bond’s Schoolhouse. In reality Joyce was actually present at the shootout for in the indictment of those inside the schoolhouse for killing Captain James West and John Williams, his name is listed as a witness.”
The survey reports that in 1861 Joyce married Mary (Mollie) Wilson, the daughter of Dr. George F. and Sophia Henrietta Hauser Wilson whose antebellum house stands a mile west.
“Mollie was educated in Philadelphia and at the Jonesville Academy. She died soon after the birth of her daughter Percie.
“The late Mrs. Estelle Vestal Johnson Gough *1879-1967) who was very knowledgeable about Yadkinville history, used to tell that one of Sarah Joyce’s sons shot and killed his daughter’s suitor on the stairsteps of the house.”
The house is also mentioned in a ghost story book written by Frances Casstevens.
Later the hold changed hands several times, and it was moved so it faces north instead of east, and the wraparound porch with its Tuscan columns were added with a connecting balustrade that curves around the northeast corner.