Stanley community loses historical community center, home in fire Wednesday night

Stanley fire | Photo by Julia Campbell

At roughly 9 p.m. Wednesday, the community of Stanley lost one of its staple community places to a fire. Lori Richards Lynn said the former residential home, flower shop, wedding venue and more at 420 Wimsatt Road was a space that anybody in the Stanley community could visit.

Richard said she normally doesn’t take U.S. 60 home, but she just did Wednesday on a spur decision. As she drove down the highway, she saw her former workplace and childhood home-away-from-home in flames.

“I immediately slammed on my brake, turned in and … it was so dark I couldn’t tell which house for sure it was, so when I pulled in I just started crying,” Richard said. “My kids were like ‘mom is there somebody in there,’ and I said ‘no, nobody lives there,’ but I knew what it meant to Jeanette (Smith, the former owner).”

Daviess County Fire Chief Jeremy Smith said they got the call close to 9 p.m., with the Stanley station responding first.

SFD ended up calling DCFD and activating the alert team and off-duty crew due to the size of the fire.

“I think the final crews — other than the investigator who was there for a large part of the day today — left at about 10:30 (Thursday) morning,” Smith said.

Smith said it is now in the hands of the DCFD and Daviess County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the source of the fire.

The house was built in the late 1800s and has been a number of things for the Stanley community. For Richard, it was her grandparents’ home first.

Her father’s family were all born at the home. Throughout her childhood, she had several parties, family reunions, barbecues, and more there.

“At family reunions there would be upwards of a couple hundred people on the front lawn and in the backyard barbecuing and playing croquet,” Smith said.

Other memories include spending time with her grandfather as a tobacco farmer, and in the barns out back raising chickens during Easter.

While Smith doesn’t live in Stanley anymore, she said that when she heard what had happened to the home she thought about the amount of history the home held for her family and the community as it evolved.

Lynn said there would be days she was in the store when people would convene at the flower shop for any reason.

“We would sit in the kitchen and do flowers and talk and laugh …” Richard said. “It was the local hangout, I guess.”

While Lynn said she never lived there, it was the place where she grew up — the place where she got her driver’s license, delivered flowers, and was the main source of her formative teenage years.

“It was just a big part of my life and I forgot about some of those things until I saw the fire and it kind of brought it all back,” she said.