Mrs. Yancey

Known Name(s)

Mrs. Yancey


320 Holbrook St. Danville, VA

Establishment Type(s)

Tourist Home

Physical Status



The 1951 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows 320 Holbrook as a two-story frame dwelling with a composition roof and a small two-story rear addition. The house today, which may or may not be the same buildling, is a two-story bungalow with a stucco finish and a one-story  porch on the front/east elevation. It has a hipped, almost pyramidal, roof with a front/east triple-window dormer. The primary/east elevation has two sets of paired one-over-one windows on the second story, and a door and a triple one-over-one window on the first story. There is a chimney on the north elevation and another on the west elevation.

Detailed History

Mrs. Yancey's tourist home was listed as just Yancey’s in later issues, but very possibly the same house. The 1966/67 issue of the Green Book refers to the business as Yancey’s Tourist Home. The 1940 census lists James Yancey, age 47, African American and born in Virginia, and his wife Mary, age 45 and also an African American born in Virginia,  living at 320 Holbrook with several lodgers in their house. He’s a tailor; she’s a teacher. They also have three temporary wards in the household: Pansy Jones, Marion Callahan, and Irene Pritchett. The 1950 census lists Mary B. Yancey, age 56, at 320 Holbrook Street. She is married, Black, the head of the household, and works as a schoolteacher. Her son, Howard B. Yancey, is in the household, as is a lodger, Roy Sheats, age 36. There is no husband listed in the household. The Yanceys lived on this block as early as June 5, 1917, when James Yancey registered for the WWI draft with a home address of 323 Holbrook. Either the street numbering changed, which is quite common, or the Yanceys moved to a different house on the same block.

The 1951 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for Danville indicates that the building next door at 324 Holbrook is the "Danville Public Library (colored)." That site is now a vacant lot. 

Per Danville tax records, the house at 320 Holbrook Street was built in 1960. J.W. Yancey, Jr. sold it to Alpha Phi Omega in 2006. A chapter of the sorority currently (as of 2021 at least) resides in the house. Tax records are notoriously inaccurate, and often indicate the date the house was most recently remodeled, not when it was initially constructed. Based on the fact that James Yancey lived at 323 Holbrook in 1917, the Yanceys could have lived in a different house prior to 1960, built a new house to replace the old, or significantly altered the house in 1960. They continued to advertise their tourist home in the Green Book through the 1966/67 issue.

On Friday, July 30, 2021, a historical marker was dedicated commemmorating the history of the Mary B. Yancey House and the William F. Grasty Library, which stood next door. The Grasty library was a segregated library for Black residents of Danville prior to the desegregation of the library system. The library no longer stands; it was demolished. For more information, refer to the Danville website: 

Thanks to legislation proposed by Del. Mike Mullin and signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin on March 23, 2023, Green Book sites throughout Virginia will receive specially-designed Green Book markers. This site was one of the first three to receive one; the marker was posted on December 11, 2023. 

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