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The Holly Springs Depot symbolizes the important role railroads have played in the city's history. It was originally built in 1858 by the Mississippi Central Railroad and expanded over time to its present size by 1933. It is the main building of the Depot-Compress Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The district encompasses the area immediately surrounding the depot. The depot is open to the public during Civil War reenactments, an art crawl, and other events.

The Holly Springs Depot is a historic train station originally built in 1858. It represents the vital role railroading played in shaping the town's economic development.

Window, Property, House, Monochrome

In the 1850s, the Mississippi Central Railroad (MCR) built a rail line from Holly Springs to New Orleans. The company chose Holly Springs for the start of the line because the town had become an important agricultural trading center. The railroad began building the line in 1852 and completed it in 1860, about two years or so after the original depot building was constructed. The depot was also used as a hotel.

By the time the Civil War began in 1861, Holly Springs had established itself as a key strategic location and the MCR was the state's most important rail line. During the war, the line was critical for the transportation of troops and supplies for the Union and Confederacy. In late 1862, Union General Ulysses S. Grant captured Holly Springs and established an arms and supply depot here containing clothing, ammunition, food, and medicine. The depot was an important piece of Grant's campaign to seize control of the important city of Vicksburg. However, a Confederate contingent of troops and cavalry led General Earl Van Dorn attacked Holly Springs and destroyed the supply depot, dealing a severe but ultimately temporary blow to Grant's plans (the Union did eventually take Vicksburg in 1863).

While the Confederates burned down many of the town's buildings, they left railroad depot untouched. After the war, the Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans Railroad acquired the MCR line and changed its name to the Illinois Central Railroad (ICR). The ICR renovated the depot in 1886, giving it its current Romanesque Revival appearance, and continued to operate it as a hotel. Telegraph and ticket offices, waiting rooms (separate ones for men, women, and African Americans), and a dining hall were located on the first floor. The second floor contained the guest rooms. It appears that American author William Faulkner visited Holly Springs on a number of occasion, including having a meal in the depot. Another famous visitor, President Theodore Roosevelt, spoke to a crowd who came to see him at the depot.

The ICR stopped using Holly Springs as a train stop in the 1930s. Around 1940, a man named O.B. Kerr bought the depot and used the first floor as a factory and converted the guest rooms into apartments (he and his family lived here as well). After he died, the depot became a private residence of the Kerr family, whose descendants continue to own and live in the old building. They have been restoring it as well.

Just to the west of the depot are ruins of several buildings that once were a thriving cotton processing facility that graded and compressed cotton into bales. The facility, which was referred to as a compress, was originally established in 1890 and operated for several decades.

Alexa. "All at The Depot: William Faulkner, President Teddy Roosevelt, Night Blooming Cereus Party, and more!" The Holly Springs Depot. May 15, 2015.

"Depot-Compress Historic District." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. April 20, 1983.

"History." The Holly Springs Depot. Accessed December 4, 2020.

"Illinois Central Depot (1886)." Hill Country History. Accessed December 4, 2020.

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