Rich soil from periodic flooding of the White River drew settlers as early as the mid-1830s who established plantations in the area that become Holly Grove. The name was taken from the holly thickets that were native to the area. Though the plantations once were considered a “suburb” of Lawrenceville,” the county seat of Monroe County for a time, the coming of the Arkansas Central Railroad in 1872 reversed their fortunes. Holly Grove’s economy flourished, while Lawrenceville became a ghost town. Incorporated in 1876, Holly Grove became a thriving community and an important depot between Clarendon and Helena.
Despite devastation created by the Flood of 1927, Holly Grove rebounded and was a lively community into the 1950s. As automobile traffic increased, including construction of Interstate 40 just over 20 miles north at Brinkley (between Little Rock and West Memphis), Holly Grove’s heyday diminished and ultimately the railroad tracks were removed.
Holly Grove is a well-preserved historic Delta community, with 20 surviving buildings in the downtown district listed in the National Register of Historic Places, along with two residences and a church. It is on the Monroe County Loop of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.