The Levy House was built around 1897 by Isaac C. Levy (1837-1920), a prominent local Jewish businessman.  In the 1870s, Holly Springs witnessed a large wave of Jewish immigrants.  By 1878, nearly 50 Jews lived in town, which was remarkable considering that Holly Springs did not have a Synagogue and local Jews had to travel to Memphis to attend regular services.  As a result, many Jewish families, including the Levys, often attended worship at First Presbyterian Church, due to the Presbyterian Church’s welcoming atmosphere.  Besides the Levys, other Jewish families who moved to Holly Springs included the Shumackers, Behrs, Meyers, Grosskins, Sessels and Blumenthals.

For the most part, Jewish families assimilated into the rest of the town of Holly Springs without incident.  At the beginning of the Civil War, General Grant’s deeply-unpopular General Order Number 11 resulted in the expulsion of all Jews from Holly Springs, but President Lincoln quickly overruled the General’s decision.  By the 1890s and early 20th century, Jewish merchants owned many of the stores around the Holly Springs Square.  These stores included Isidor Blumenthal’s women’s clothing store, Raphael Shumacker and his sons’ men’s clothing store, and the most famous and long-lasting of all the Jewish-owned stores:  I.C. Levy’s, a department store that Levy first opened in 1858, but was located in the current I. C. Levy building beginning in 1879.  The Jewish population in Holly Springs began to decline in the 1920s and 1930s.  By 1940, almost all of the Jewish-owned businesses had closed down, and there were less than 20 Jews still living in town, including the Levys.  By 1970, the last Levy children and grandchildren left town, and the Jewish population became extinct.

Flush from the profits from his department store, I. C. Levy built this Queen Anne Victorian house in 1897.  This location, at the corner of College Avenue and Maury Street, soon became known as the “Jewish Section” of town, due to several other Jewish families who lived in the immediate area, including Raphael Shumacker at Linden Terrace , Dan Shumacker who built Coopwood in 1903, and I. C. Levy’s son Henry who lived in the Levy-Gresham House across the street from this home.

The original Levy House was a massive, state-of-the-art Queen Anne Victorian mansion, with sweeping porches and elaborate exterior woodwork.  It would have undoubtedly been the most extravagant house built in Holly Springs in a generation.  Unfortunately, the house was struck by lightning during a massive thunderstorm in 1920, and the house was almost destroyed.  Thankfully, the bottom story of the house was saved, and the house was rebuilt into a one-story Victorian cottage, which allegedly had the first running water plumbing in town.

I. C. Levy died in 1920, but his family continued to live here until 1927, when the house was sold to Walter C. Robison (1871-1934) and his wife Sallie S. Robison (1881-1966).  In 1931, the Robisons sold the house to Hamilton Harris (1888-1952) and Gladys Harris (1896-1978).  Hamilton Harris was murdered on the Holly Springs Square in 1952, and some believe that his ghost haunts the Levy House today.  Harris’s widow Gladys continued to live in the house until 1969.  Elizabeth Howell owned the Levy House from 1969 until 1979, and Harold Todd Jr. owned it from 1979 until 1982.

Dr. Robert Lomenick and his wife Ellen Lomenick lived in the Levy House between 1982 and 1995.  Attorney Steven Farese Jr. and his family lived here from 1995 until 2000.  Thomas Hurdle lived here from 2000 until 2004, when the current owners, Greg and Lisa Shaw purchased the house.

The current Levy House is a one-and-a-half-story multi-gable-on-hip frame house, with a three-bay hip-roof porch with pedimented entrance bay (one of the elements which survived from the original Victorian house).  The property is surrounded by the original cast iron fence with brick corner posts.

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