“The history of the town is in these buildings”: Preserving Cairo’s historical resources

CAIRO, Ill. (KBSI) – A crown jewel of the once flourishing city of Cairo, Ill., Magnolia Manor is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2022.

It was also the site of the inaugural Cairo Magnolia Celebration, a fundraiser hosted by The Cairo Historical Preservation Project, Inc., a non-for-profit organization whose mission is to protect and preserve Cairo’s historical resources like Magnolia Manor.

Other buildings included in the preservation efforts are the Cairo Custom House Museum, Safford Public Library, and Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church.

The organization’s president Don Patton said the past can be a tool for shaping the future.

“If you don’t know your history, you can’t, in my opinion, understand the future,” he said. “We don’t want to dwell in the past, but we want to intersect the past with the future.”

Secretary Jim Fredlund said preserving buildings like Magnolia Manor and the Cairo Custom House Museum, which is also celebrating its 150th year, will keep some of the town’s most important history alive.

“This town looked like this all over 50 years ago, and now these are the only structures remaining, so in the sake of history, we want to preserve what’s left and what’s important,” he said. “The history of the town is in these buildings.”

It’s not going to happen overnight, though.

“Cairo is a very significant town,” Fredlund said. “Unfortunately, time has taken its toll and the town has lost its luster. We want to try to preserve what we can and bring it back slowly.”

You can’t turn back the hands of time, but there is something to be said for the structures that withstand its tests.

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