Holly Union Depot wins $150,000 grant in national voting campaign

The historic Holly Union Depot will get new life after it won a $150,000 grant as part of the 2019 Partners in Preservation: Main Streets program, sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in collaboration with Main Street America and National Geographic.

The funding will provide half of the approximately $300,000 needed to move and rehabilitate the depot. Wedged between two active rail lines, the depot is not in a safe location for use. By moving the depot 1,000 feet, it can become more integrated into the downtown business district and converted into community space for residents and a welcome center for visitors to learn about Holly's history and current amenities and attractions.

"We are proud that one of our Main Street communities received significant financial support and recognition to help them preserve and revitalize an important historic building in the county," County Executive Dave Coulter said. "Our quality of life is built and maintained by our engaged citizens, with each project enhancing the county overall."

Holly competed with more than 100 preservation projects from throughout the U.S. for a portion of $2 million in American Express preservation grants. Chosen as a finalist, it competed with 19 other projects in an online voting campaign. Holly finished with nearly 72,000 votes to finish in sixth place, one place behind the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Ala., which houses the courtroom made famous by Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird." Another high-profile site included the birthplace of Girl Scouts of the United States of America founder Juliette Gordon Low.

To honor the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, this year's campaign placed special emphasis on historic buildings and sites that celebrate the contributions of women across America.

"Thank you to all the people who voted regularly to place the Holly Union Depot on this prestigious list of national grant winners," said Katy Golden, director of the Holly Downtown Development Authority and assistant city manager. "We will continue our active fundraising activities until we have enough money to complete this important project that will both preserve a beloved historic building in our community and convert it into a valued space for generations to come."

Built in 1886, the depot has seen so many travelers their depressions show in the stone floor. Women have distributed meals there for soldiers being sent off to war and welcomed them there when they returned home. In 1908, famous prohibitionist Carry Nation arrived at the depot and became known locally for her hatchet-wielding crusades against "demon-rum" in nearby Battle Alley. A non-profit organization has been setup to accept donations, Main Street Holly. Checks can be sent to Village of Holly, Attn: Holly Union Depot, 300 East St., Holly, 48442.

Published: Thu, Nov 07, 2019