Fundraising Continues as Holly Remembers History Lost in Fire
(Liam Feeney, Aug 6, 2022)
Holly, MI – Fundraising continues as the Holly community continues to work together after the fire of June 24 which destroyed three buildings and left several other small businesses closed due to electrical, smoke, and water damage.
The fire started at Arcade Antiques, which was a total loss. It spread to the Holly Hotel and Andy’s Place, which are both in the process of rebuilding. Neighboring establishments, such as Creative Fashions and the Holly Moose Lodge remain closed. Though insurance will cover some of what’s needed, Downtown Holly has partnered with Main Street Oakland County on a Patronicity fundraiser to help with needs that aren’t covered.
The fundraiser, found HERE, goes through Aug. 14.
Oakland County Times spoke with members of the Holly Community who were able to shed some light on the fire and the aftermath, including where the community goes from here. “Holly has a long history of fires,” said Nicole Edwards-Rankin of the Holly Historic Society. “The Holly Hotel itself has survived a few fires itself prior to this.”
The buildings really do represent more than just commerce in the town.” she continued, “They have a long history that stretches back to the very foundations of the town itself. They have a lot of personality and memories attached to them.
“My husband and I had our first date at Andy’s place. The Hotel has hosted countless weddings not to mention the other businesses around downtown that had to close down because of the fire.”
Andy’s Place wasn’t always the bustling restaurant most locals know today. Compared to the other buildings it was a rather revolving door of businesses coming in and out. Prior to Andy’s Place it was known as the Broad Street Station. But something about this Andy’s Place resonated with the community since it opened in 2014, and it’s been a staple of the community ever since.
The Holly Hotel is a visage of an old era in the United States, serving as one of the few remaining train hotels throughout the country. In its time the Hotel has seen presidents such as George Bush Senior, hosted the Stanley Cup when the Red Wings won it back in the late 90’s, and even hosted significant local events such as the famous Cary Nation arrival where a Pro-Temperance movement came to town, smashing bottles of booze with her axe and causing a brawl so big it lead to a visit from the Governor to assess the damage.
The Hotel, which has been used as a restaurant and not for lodging in recent decades, has even faced two fires prior to this one – in 1913 and 1973, each time using the remains of the hotel to be used in the rebuild in some way. This most recent fire left the facade of the hotel in tact, while most repair work will be to the interior and the back of the building.
But the complete loss of Arcade Antiques has not only taken with it an historic building, but also the countless bits of history the store contained.
After initially opening in 1990 it has served as a sort of time machine for the community with a multitude of vendors selling antiques of all kinds. Countless artifacts through the decades have come through the doors of the arcade From classic toys, to old fashioned tools, long lost eras of fashion, and long lost books from ages ago were all turned to ashes in the flames.
Though it’s been weeks, the community still mourns. Visitors snap pictures of the piles of bricks and the standing walls of the buildings, sharing stories with strangers who come to see the rubble. Someone planted an American Flag to mark the spot.
“The community really cared for these buildings and their history,” said Joe Mishler, another Holly Historical buff. “When the fire started I had a moment where I was thinking ‘oh boy here we went again’ before the firefighters got there”.
Once the fire broke out it quickly became a major emergency to the point where a a plethora of other fire engines from other communities were called in to help. From places like Grand Blanc, Fenton, and Brandon-Ortonville all the way down to Troy, dozens of firefighters came to the scene to fight the blaze. In the end over seventeen different communities and over a hundred firefighters came to fight the inferno.
“It was really awe inspiring the amount of support from other communities we received,” said Mishler, “And not just them but the people in the community too. We had people providing water and Gatorade as the firefighters were rotating. Especially as the fire got worse and they had to move the firefighters around who were resting. Heck they didn’t have any drivers for the ambulances at one point because they were fighting the fire too. But even with that the grit these guys showed as they fought the fire was incredible.”
Tiny moments like this, or the Firefighters backing out of the ally between two stores right before a hot flash engulfed it, or the donations box and sign at the local ice cream shop, Ziggy’s, being scorched yet leaving the building itself intact, these are the tiny victories that were celebrated as the day went on and the damage became clear.
Even before the fire had died down people across town were figuring out what they could do to help. Online there was chatter on how to bring the community together and various posts about people asking what they can do to help out those affected. Once the fire had died down the community really stepped up. “We already are working with the business owners on how we can help and get fundraisers organized for them,” said Edwards-Rankin.
Downtown Development Authority Director Nick Klempp has been the point person for collaborating fundraising efforts. The Patronicity page has raised over $20,000 and there are other fundraisers as well, including a T shirt design fundraiser through the Village of Holly Fire Department, which can be found at http://hollyfirefundraiser.itemorder.com/.
“The DDA Economic Vitality committee is designing the application and process for allocating the funds to buildings, businesses, employees, tenants and vendors and have already sent out a needs survey to the impacted businesses,” Klemp told Oakland County Times. There’s also been support from the Charles Stewart Harding Mott, II, Holly Michigan Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
“We want to make sure we are able to help in the fullest way possible.” Mishler said. “The community has already shown that it is committed to helping rebuild these businesses and support them all the way through. It’s tragic but Holly has been through stuff like this before and we always get through it.”
The resolve in the voices of everyone who talks about the fire is enough to give chills. “I’ve heard a lot of people say we have lost a bit of history,” Mrs. Edwards-Rankin said,” but we didn’t lose history, it just changed. And it’s up to us to preserve that memory.”
“It’s another page in Holly’s history book,” says Mishler, “and while it is sad, I think what we should remember is not just the fire but the community coming together.”
The fundraiser, found HERE, goes through Aug. 14.