2013 Five to Revive – Holley High School

Holly High School 4879_2
Photo Courtesy Richard Margolis

Holley High School

Wright Street (NYS Route 31) at Main Street (NYS 237)
Village of Holley, Orleans County

Built in 1931, the former Holley High School is a strategically located and well-recognized landmark, which occupies a prominent site in the village at the central intersection of Wright and Main streets (NYS Routes 31 & 237).  This Neo-Classical Revival building is located within the Holley Village Historic District, which has been declared officially eligible for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places.   This historic district, situated in the core of the village, is a significant collection of late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century commercial, religious, residential, and educational architecture.  Between 1825 and the early twentieth century, Holley was a small, yet bustling, canal-side transportation hub, as well as a center of commercial activity for the surrounding rural, agrarian region.  The very irregular street pattern is a reflection of the village’s earliest decades of prosperity, when its primary thoroughfare (Route 31) developed along the curving route of the west bank of the 1825 Erie Canal.  The canal was rerouted to the north during the 1850s-‘60s, although the southern loop through the center of the village was in local service well into the early twentieth century.

The highly visible site of this former school has been the location of two high school buildings, one constructed in 1896 and its successor, the present building, which was erected in 1930. Designed by Rochester architect and school specialist, Carl Ade, the former Holley High School was described as “the latest type of modern school construction” and featured fire-proof construction with structural steel frame, reinforced concrete floors, and brick exterior walls. Its restrained Neo-Classical design included a handsome columned portico on the façade.This prominent building served as the community’s high school into the mid-1970s. There has been only intermittent use of limited sections of the school in the intervening years. The former high school is a major visual anchor in the village business district. A contributing building in the proposed “Holley Village Historic District,” the former Holley High School also appears to be individually eligible for listing in the State and National Register of Historic Places.


A highly visible anchor in this historic Erie Canal village, the former Holley High School is one of the most important civic buildings in Orleans County. Its notable historic and architectural significance, combined with its prominent location and scale of design, make it an important candidate for rehabilitation and re-use after nearly 30 years of vacancy.