The East side of the Holly Springs Square has been the heart of the commercial district in Holly Springs for over 100 years. The East Square is anchored by two long-lasting pillars of the town: the I.C. Levy store and the Merchant and Farmers Bank (now the Tax Accessor’s Office). Before the Civil War, the East Square consisted of frame buildings, including the Union Hotel (seen in the only pre-War picture of Holly Springs above) and the three-story brick Masonic Hall. During Van Dorn’s Raid in December 1862, the Masonic Hall was destroyed, along with the rest of the East Square.
After the Civil War, the East Square was rebuilt in the 1870s. On the south side of this part of the Square is located a retail establishment that has lasted, in one form or another, for 150 years. After the former site of the Union Hotel was rebuilt in brick in 1870, the bottom story was the home of the Sam Frank Dry Goods Store, while the second story was used as a Law office for George Wiley Wells, a northern carpetbagger who lived in Holly Springs during Reconstruction. In 1877 the dry goods store closed, and two years later local Jewish merchant I. C. Levy, who had founded his retail store in town in 1858, moved his store, I.C. Levy’s (1858), to this corner. I. C. Levy’s remained at this location for a hundred years, before closing in the 1970s. The Miller family operated Linwood’s here from the 1970s until 2007. After less than 10 years being empty, the store is now home to Retro Rooster, a fun gift and antique shop.
Just to the north of of I. C. Levy’s was located the Leach Dry Goods Store, beginning in the late 19th century and early 20th. By the early 1900s, this was the location of the Stojowski Hardware Store, which eventually merged with Booker and Brown Hardware Store (then located on the West Square) to form Booker’s Hardware, another long-lasting store still located on the Square. Continuing north, where law and real estate offices are located now was once the Isom Jones dress shop.
Further north was the grand Masonic Hall, rebuilt as a three-story brick building in 1870 after the original Hall was destroyed in Van Dorn’s Raid. For 80 years, this was the heart of the social scene in Holly Springs. While Ben Thompson ran a drug store on the first floor of the Masonic Hall for many years, the second and third floors saw many a dance or theater production over the decades. On February 7, 1951, on a cold winter day, a devastating fire destroyed the Masonic Hall and the building to the north of the Hall. The fire would have destroyed the rest of the Square if not for the timely intervention of “Boss” Crump, Holly Springs’ native son who was then the most powerful man in Memphis, Tennessee. Crump brought fire engines down from Memphis to prevent the fire from spreading. The loss of the Masonic Hall, one of the tallest and grandest buildings in Holly Springs, was devastating.
Also destroyed in the 1951 fire was the Buford Furniture Store. Buford’s rebuilt after the fire and was located at this spot for many years, before moving even further north on this side of the Square. In this area was also located the Blumenthals Department Store.
At the north end of the East Square was where the South Reporter was originally located in the late 19th century. In 1899, the Merchant and Farmers Bank was founded on this spot, and remained at this location for a hundred years. Today, this is the location of the Marshall County Tax Assessor’s Office.