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Holly Springs - A brief history

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The Tuscarora Indians used the area around Holly Springs as a hunting ground prior to colonial settlement. This tribe fled North Carolina around 1720 to escape the influx of Europeans and eventually became the sixth nation of the Iroquois. In colonial times, a small cluster of homes and businesses formed around the original 'holly springs' in an area that once was a Tuscarora Indian hunting ground.

The tiny community included a sawmill, cotton gin, a store and a house that was used as a school and as a church, one of the first four to join the Raleigh Baptist Association in 1805. The church disbanded when 'several members became indulged in things of this world and became unfaithful to the church,' according to a church history. Some former members established another Baptist church a couple miles north at the intersection of two roads, one that went from Hillsborough to Smithfield and the other from Raleigh to the Cape Fear River and then on to Fayetteville. The crossroads was to become what is now downtown Holly Springs. 

It was at this crossroads that Scottish settler Archibald Leslie opened a tailoring business and store and began construction on a 180-acre estate that contained freshwater springs. Today, all that remains is the main house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Leslie-Alford-Mims House, and the springs, accessible to the public by a short, winding dirt trail that winds through the woods and past a family cemetery.

The house is a commanding landmark, visible from Main Street in the heart of downtown Holly Springs. It is the most noted historic landmark in Town, having weathered nearly two centuries and a two-week occupation by Union troops during the Civil War. During the Civil War, North Carolina seceded from the Union. Captain Oscar R. Rand recruited willing men of all ages to join Governor Zebulon Baird Vance's 26th Infantry Regiment.

During the end of the civil war, a segment of the Union Army encamped near Holly Springs and set up headquarters in the Leslie-Alford-Mims House.  

One of the oldest commercial structures in Wake County, which now houses Dewar’s Antiques, was built during the Town’s early years and stands as a testament to the community’s turn-of-the-century prosperity. The two-and-a-half story building edges Main Street in the heart of downtown and displays the gable-front form most commonly used for frame commercial buildings in the late 19th century.

At the turn of the century, following World War II, a downtown commercial structure developed that remains today named the Seagraves Drugstore building. Initially a general mercantile, the building was later used as a dress shop and an auto parts store. The Town purchased and renovated the two-story brick building in 2003 and currently uses it as a police station. During the renovations, the Town preserved much of the original old-growth heart pine flooring and reused other original wood pieces to construct a conference table and bookcases.

In the latter half of the 20th century, further progress returned to Holly Springs. In the 1960s, the Town installed streetlights and constructed a public water system. A sewer plant was completed in 1985, attracting Warp Technologies, a textile company, to Town. With the addition of Warp Technologies, Holly Springs’ tax base doubled from $8 to $16 million. The Town used the boost in revenue to expand utilities, in turn attracting further development, including the Sunset Ridge golf course community. Thus began another era of growth and prosperity that remains strong today. 

Visit Holly Springs today!

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