During the Civil War, the Holly Springs community was stripped of fighting-age men. Local schools shut down and the progress of the once-thriving community was put on hold. Near the end of the war, when a flank of the Union Army was sent to cut off retreating Confederate forces and then was recalled, the Union troop’s headquarters was established in the Leslie house.
After the Civil War, prosperity did not return easily to the Holly Springs community. The construction of the Chatham Railroad through Apex, a neighboring town, encouraged economic prosperity down the road from Holly Springs. Historian M.N. Amis described the Town as “a deserted village;” only 10 buildings of size in the community are shown in an 1871 survey. Among the buildings was the downtown Masonic Lodge, constructed in 1854 and used as a school for girls in 1856. The structure is the oldest lodge and school building remaining in Wake County and still is used today for meetings and community events.
While the Town’s economy boomed during the early 1900s, several events shortly thereafter forced the Town into a recess. World War I drew men to war and families to bigger cities for improved employment opportunities. Alford, who had stirred up economic momentum, died in 1923. In 1924, the Bank of Holly Springs failed, the first bank in the state to go belly up before the great Depression of 1929. The Town lay fallow through World War II, seemingly forgotten in the southern corner of the state’s capital county.
Nestled among Apex, Cary and Fuquay-Varina, all towns experiencing growth from the heavily populated Raleigh and Research Triangle Park areas, Holly Springs is rapidly growing. The Town of less than 1,000 just two decades ago in 1990 has grown to more than 25,000. From the past to the present, from the small-town atmosphere where people still know each other by name to the frequent, unique family-oriented activities, Holly Springs is a town that is continuing to grow not just in population and industry but also in heart.