Interesting links
Below: Downtown Holly - east side of Saginaw Street
Holly's Victorian charm and turn of the century ambiance escaped the urban renewal movement that destroyed so many fine old towns in the United States. Although the south end of the DDA District contains the lion's share of Victorian-style architecture, the north end of the district also boasts many interesting 1950's and 1960's-era architectural details. Most newer buildings are subject to village ordinances that require the site plans and business signs to be approved by the planning commission. This keeps unsightly designs from ruining the small-town flavor of the district.

Jamas on North Saginaw Street was an old
farm house and retains all of its character as a business.

Battle Alley looking west from South Saginaw Street.


Welcome to Main Street Holly!

"Our mission is to preserve, beautify,
and unify our downtown, enhance the
quality of life, and enable an economically prosperous future."

Holly, Michigan is rich in history. The Main Street Holly Team together with the Downtown Development Authority is committed to preserving that history while guiding growth and revitalizing existing buildings within the DDA district.

Holly's roots go back 150+ years, to the arrival of its first settlers in 1831. Many followed, and by 1843, one of these, Ira C. Alger, had dammed the Shiawassee River and constructed a sawmill to provide lumber for homes and schools. A year later he built a gristmill to process the grain from the surrounding agricultural land. With these assets, Holly was able to attract the railroads, and in 1855, the first train rolled into town, marking the beginning of Holly's growth era, and the development of downtown Holly as its hub.

The 1860's saw more rail lines completed through Holly, and the town became the site of the first rail junction in the state. Hotels sprang up near the depot north and south of the tracks along Broad Street, so-named for its wide expanse prior to the railroad tracks being laid. Business established themselves on Broad Street, where bustling activity promised success, and spread up Martha to Saginaw Street.

Holly's early commercial buildings were frame structures built with the readily available supply of local lumber. In 1875, a fire that threatened the whole downtown was fought by bucket brigade, but all of the buildings on the east side were destroyed. Soon after (1877-79), these buildings, and most of the remaining frame structures in the downtown area were replaced with brick structures that remain today.

With the advent of the automobile, the railroad declined importance, especially for passenger transportation, and many businesses sprang up to cater to rail travelers found themselves with fewer customers. The center of business activity shifted away from the railroad tracks to Saginaw Street, where automobiles access was easier.

Many buildings fell into disuse, and some, like the old "Balcony Block" on Broad Street, were eventually torn down and replaced with structures of more modern construction. The automobile and other elements of progress brought many changes to the downtown: gas stations and parking lots, street lights and traffic signals, signs sized and lit to attract passing motorists, new businesses selling new products growth and change have altered the appearance of the downtown that has stood for over 100 years.

In 1984 concerned citizens and business owners in downtown Holly got together to form the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The DDA took on beautification projects and worked with the Historic District Commission to ensure the preservation of our historic streetscapes. DDA projects ranged from large-scale building renovations to new benches and trash receptacles in the downtown.

Hoping to help our downtown thrive even more, the DDA expanded their boundaries in 1999 to include Holly’s entire commercial corridor. The DDA also became a Main Street Community in 2001. An executive director was hired and the DDA moved forward with the Main Street four-point approach to town management.

Contact us at:
Executive Director
Downtown Development Authority/Main Street Holly
202 S. Saginaw St.
Holly, MI 48442
Phone: 248.634.9571 Fax:248.634.4211

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