Established in 1913, the orphanage was originally funded through the contributions of the Presbyterian community. During World War I it was requisitioned by the military and returned to the ownership of the local council in 1952. At its height, Holly Tree Lodge was home to around 240 orphans, many of whom remained in the Arbroath area. Clement McDonald lived here until he was twelve years old.
In November 1965, the orphanage was shut down due to a negative inspection and the departure of its governing board. After a period as a centre for outdoor pursuits, the lodge was converted into flats. (TV: Children of Earth: Day Three)
The children who lived in the Lodge were allegedly driven to Harbour Heights, another orphanage in Plymouth, but were instead taken into the Scottish Highlands and given to the 456 as a gift, in return for a cure for Spanish influenza. (TV: Children of Earth: Day One)