Since 2008, the exterior of th...
HOLLY, Michigan – It was full steam ahead for restoration efforts on Holly’s historic depot for more than decade, but over the last several years, all work has stopped, and the depot is once again falling into a state of disrepair.
In his quest for saving historical buildings in the community, Holly resident and local businessman, John Lauve, has once again brought the issue to the forefront, and as a result, has spurred interest among citizens in reforming the once-successful Depot Restoration Committee.
History of the depot
Equipped with hot and cold running water, electricity, drinking fountains, two waiting rooms, and a “grand lunch counter,” Holly’s historic depot was once a state-of-the-art facility. Along with the rail road, the depot played a key role in making Holly one of Michigan’s most popular destinations at the turn of the century.
Holly’s historical train depot...
Originally a stagecoach destination, Holly eventually served as one of Michigan’s prime rail road hubs as it was centrally located – only 17 miles away from Flint, 22 miles from Pontiac, 39 miles from Ann Arbor, and 45 miles from Detroit.
Freight and passenger trains alike passed through Holly, allowing economic development in the village to flourish.
Holly’s historical train depot was designed by George Mason, a chief architect and engineer for the D&M Railroad, and constructed in 1886.
The foundation of the depot is made out of cut stone with a white brick wall. Inside the depot, the ticket office was in the center of the building, and had two ticket windows to serve passengers. The depot had electricity four years before the rest of the village did as they used the railroad’s electrical system. The system not only ran the lights at the depot, but it also provided electricity for eight Western Union telegraph lines.
Depot Restoration Committee history
In 2002, citizens interested in restoring Holly’s once-magnificent depot to its former glory united.
Two grants totaling $151,450, as well as funding from the village and money raised by the Holly Depot Restoration Committee, paid for the exterior renovations.
Between 2002 and 2006 the roof was repaired, new windows installed, brick work and masonry repairs undertaken and exterior wood restored, including fabrication of doors to match the original. Plumbing and electrical updates also were made.
Due to budget constraints, the depot restoration project was not included in the village’s 2006-2007 fiscal year budget, causing the committee to seek grants and donations independently in order to continue with its work.
In the summer of 2006, two donations – one by CSX Rail Road and the other by a private Holly citizen, allowed the Depot Restoration Committee to hire a historic consultant to assist the committee in not only obtaining funding for the project, but also for identifying potential partners for the restoration process, and pinpointing possible uses for the building including making it into a Welcome Center or possibly a rail road museum.
Consultant Leslie Pielak’s three phase plan paid off, when in 2008, the committee received a grant for $5,000 from the Charles Stewart Harding Mott II Foundation.
Additionally, Depot Restoration Committee Chairman, Randy Redmond nabbed a $10,000 grant from Mass Mutual Insurance.
Village Manager Jerry Walker said there is currently $22,000 in the village’s depot restoration fund. “The fund is made up of grant money and donations,” Walker said.
In researching the depot’s interior floor, Redmond and fellow committee member, Bill Whitmore, visited Durand’s refurbished depot.
“Their depot had an interior floor similar to ours, and they opted to place stamped concrete over the top of it to make it look like it did back in the day,” Redmond said.
The question, Redmond said, then became how far the committee wanted to go in historic detail. “If we used stamped concrete, we could finish restoring the entire depot for an estimated $149,000,” he said. “If we had to tear out the existing thickened concrete, the price would have doubled.”
It was when Redmond and Whitmore brought the issue back to village officials that all progress on the depot came to a grinding halt.
“When we brought that idea back to Holly, neither the Downtown Development Authority nor members of the Holly Village Council could agree,” he said. “Neither of the boards had any additional money to offer, and eventually, we got tired of asking.”
Another issue the committee was facing dealt with the fact that the depot currently sits on land that leased through CSX and Grand Trunk Rail Road. “The land is currently leased for 99 years,” Redmond said. “It was the committee’s thought that if we’re going to restore the depot, we should own the land.”
Redmond said neither the village nor the DDA had the funding to purchase the property.
Several windows at the depot h...
“It’s a unique piece of land, and we had seen similar situations in neighboring communities where the companies that owned the property simply donated it to the city or village,” he said. “I began looking into that, and there was definitely some interest, but we never got that far.”
Whitmore’s untimely death that year coupled with dwindling funds and indecisive village leadership caused the entire project to stall, Redmond said.
“We did a lot of work back then and the exterior was pretty much done,” he said. “But because everyone lost interest over the last several years, the exterior is beginning to fall apart again.”
Depot Restoration Committee forming
Redmond said he is willing to pick up where he left off.
“I think it would be great if we could get the restoration committee going again,” he said. “Maybe the timing is right – maybe having new people and new enthusiasm is just what we need.”
Walker said there are approximately eight to 10 people who have expressed interest in reforming the Depot Restoration Committee.
“The committee’s 501-c3 status has expired, but that’s still attainable,” Walker said. “I think the first thing the committee needs to do is to determine a use for the depot,” he added. “It’s a lot easier to achieve a goal if we know what we want our end result to be.”
Those wishing to join the Depot Restoration Committee may contact Walker at (248) 634-9571 during normal business hours.