Historic train depot in downtown Holly vies for votes in nationwide preservation competition

The Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama, made famous as the setting for Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The Janesville Women’s Club Building, Janesville, Wisconsin. The Odd Fellow Building, Astoria, Oregon.

These and more are contestants in this year’s Vote Your Main Street competition from Partners in Preservation. In total, 20 different preservation projects across the country are vying for grant dollars. The top ten vote-getters will each receive up to $150,000 in grants.

And a historic train station in Holly, Michigan, the Union Depot, is one of this year's contestants--and Michigan’s lone representative--maintaining a steady 5th place as of press time.

"The depot is sandwiched tightly between two active railroad lines. The goal is to pick up the depot and move it 1,000 feet closer to downtown and then repurpose it and utilize the building as part of downtown’s revitalization efforts," says John Bry, principal planner for Oakland County.

"The depot can become a major focal point downtown."

Oakland County is encouraging readers to vote and vote often in the contest--and hopefully for the Holly Union Depot. Individuals are allowed five votes a day through the competition’s deadline of Tuesday, Oct. 29.

The Holly Union Depot was built in 1886 and operated into the 1970s. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Union Depot will be restored and turned into a welcome center, tourism office, and more, should they win the Main Street grant.

This year’s contest theme is Celebrate Women’s History. According to organizers, the Holly Union Depot was the site where women-led organizations would traditionally welcome soldiers passing through town. Nearby Battle Alley was the site of prohibitionist Carry Nation’s confrontation with area saloon owners.

And that’s not all.

"The key people advocating for preservation of the depot have been women," says Bry.

Visit National Geographic: Vote Your Main Street 2019 online to vote for the Holly Union Depot.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.