Investigators say Old Yadkin School was set afire

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 22, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SPENCER ó Investigators say someone started the fire that destroyed an old schoolhouse on the site of the former N.C. Finishing Co., but they donít yet know whether it was a case of arson.
Rowan County Fire Investigator Deborah Horne said the fire was started by someone inside the building off U.S. 29 by the Yadkin River. She said homeless people may have been staying there and accidently spread the blaze.
ěWe know that it was a set fire,î Horne said. ěItís still under investigation with us and Spencer Police Department.î
The Fire Marshalís Office asks that anyone with photos of the interior or exterior of the building call Horne at 704-216-8917.
Marlene Kepley couldnít believe it when she heard her former school burned to the ground Sunday night.
Kepley attended the Yadkin community school ó which was built in 1930 as a part of the N.C. Finishing Co. mill village ó for three years.
The building caught fire Sunday night at about 10:55 p.m.
Spencer Fire Chief Gray Grubb said 50 to 75 firefighters responded to assist with the fire.
Emergency crews remained on the scene Monday morning until about 5.
ěThis has just broken my heart,î Kepley said. ěI couldnít believe this happened.î
The Yadkin school was built solely on increasing workersí needs in the early 1930s.
By 1955, the N.C. Finishing plant was the countyís largest manufacturing plant in size and employees.
Kepley, 75, said she has vivid memories of the small school that sat just yards from where most of the studentsí parents worked.
ěMy teacher, Ms. Windell, used to eat a raw egg every day,î she said, laughing. ěAnd there was a juke box in that building and an old piano that had been in there since back in the 1940s.î
Thatís when Kepley attended the school.
Yadkin had about 20 to 25 students when she was there, Kepley said.
The school had just three grades and she had to start going to a school in Spencer after the third year.
ěMost of the people that lived there at the village worked at the finishing plant,î Kepley said. ěThey were the ones that decided to build the new school.î
Kepley said the school shut down around 1945, just after she had transferred to Spencer. The plant started using the building around 1950, but it was officially closed in 1966.
But the Yadkin students never lost their bond.
Kepley and former Yadkin classmates had a reunion in September.
They were hoping to speak to the propertyís owner to see if they could renovate the building and have meetings there, she said.
ěI just have a lot of good memories,î she said.