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Holly Historical Society

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Our purpose is to help preserve the history of Holly and Northwest Oakland County.

Meeting Schedule

Third Monday of each month at 7 PM.

The museum is closed during January, February and July.

Summer Hours

Saturdays 1 - 4 PM

Self-Guided Historic Walking Tour Books Available $5.00

Special viewing for groups or individuals is available on request.

Annual Craft Show

44th Holly Holiday Arts and Craft Show 

Proceeds benefit the Holly Historical Society &

Holly High School Project Graduation

November 4, 2023

Holly High School 9 AM - 4 PM

Admission is $3.

For more information, contact Susanne Les at (248) 634-5338

All events are for the benefit of the Hadley House Museum,

a 501c3 non-profit organization and totally self-supporting.


About the Museum

The Hadley House Museum, built in 1873, is a Victorian Italianate style home with original woodwork and four bedrooms. The first occupant was Dr. Daniel D. Bartholomew, who lived and practiced there until the early 1900s. Afterward, the residence was continually occupied by the Hadley family, from one generation to another. Tom and Arlene Hadley were the last private owners, and in 1986, Arlene Hadley sold her lovely home to the Holly Historical Society. The society had outgrown their first museum, the Patterson House, on East Maple Street.

The museum contains a large local photographic collection, featured in the Arcadia Images of America series book on Holly, which is available for purchase. Also, there is an extensive genealogy library for northwest Oakland County. The carriage house which, at one time, held two horses is still in the backyard.

Visit the Hadley House Museum on Saturdays in the Summer from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

Society meetings are held on the third Monday of each month, except January/February and July at 7:00 pm. The museum is also open during the summer and during the Christmas season Saturdays from 1 to 4 pm. Special viewing for groups or individuals is available on request. Donations are welcome.

The Museum will be open both Saturday and Sunday during the Holly Dickens Festival (Thanksgiving weekend and the first two weekends in December).

Learn about the history of the society here

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Holly History

Both Holly Township and Holly Village were named by Jonathan T. Allen after Mount Holly, New Jersey. It is thought that the red berries of the Michigan holly inspired the title. Ira C. Alger was the first settler to live within what became the corporate limits of the village. In 1836, Alger built a log cabin in the area where Stiff’s Mill Pond and Broad Street are today. By 1843, he dammed the Shiawassee River and constructed a sawmill, and a year later, a grist mill. This became the first business district.


The Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad came through Holly in 1855, followed by the Flint & Holly Railroad in 1864, making Holly one of the first Michigan communities with a junction. These rails brought white pine from the forests of northern Michigan to the eastern United States. The end of the Civil War in 1865 marked the incorporation of Holly Village. By then, the business district had moved to the Saginaw and Broad Street blocks, with several hotels, stores, banks, foundries, coal yard, lumberyard, and the train depot. Joining these two busy streets was Martha Street, named after Alger’s daughter. In 1885, it became known as Battle Alley when an altercation between local men and a traveling circus turned into a brawl. In 1908, national temperance leader Carry Nation stopped here to speak on the prohibition of alcohol, and the event was marked by the Carry Nation festival every September the weekend after Labor Day (now known as Holly Days).


As the boom time for Michigan lumber decreased, other businesses took their place. The H. J. Heinz Company, Grinnell Brothers Piano Factory, the Hartz Spring Factory, and Lane (Cyclone) Fence Factory were once all located here. Currently, Holly is the home of Bars Leak, Delta Tube, Phyle Industries, and Universal Data. Holly is now well known for its lovely retail stores and restaurants in the downtown area as well as its beautiful parks that help maintain a rural setting.

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