John Hirst built this extravagant hotel in 1891, and with over 25 trains a day stopping in the town of Holly where it still stands today it must have been a busy place. It was known as the Hirst Hotel until he sold it to Joseph P. Allen in 1912 who renamed it the Holly Hotel. About a year after Mr. Allen purchased the hotel, a devastating fire destroyed the upper floor. He rebuilt the hotel with some changes to the roof because of the fire. After decades of guests, Prohibition and the Great Depression, the hotel suffered another fire in 1978 exactly 65 years to the day from the first fire on January 19th. The remains of the hotel faced a date with the wrecking ball but instead, it was painstakingly restored to its 19th-century glory. It has the distinction of being one of the few buildings in Michigan that have been serving food in three different centuries.
Employes and guests to the hotel have said that you smell cigar smoke before seeing apparitions of a man in a top hat. It’s believed to be the ghost of Mr. Hirst who was known to smoke cigars. He is not seen very often, but on many occasions, his laughter can be heard in different locations around the hotel. A former hostess of the hotel, Nora Kane’s spirit can be heard singing along with the smell of her perfume.
I am not sure if you will see a ghost at the old hotel, but it is worth a trip to Holly. It’s a beautiful downtown with old historic buildings, lovely shops, and restaurants.
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