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Project underway to preserve 4 historical sites in Cairo, Ill.

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 10:02 PM CDT
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CAIRO, Ill. (KFVS) - Cairo natives are hoping to change the perception of the town by preserving its history.

The Cairo Historical Preservation Project is helping to preserve four historical sites.

Their goal is to make sure as time goes on, the town’s history stays in tack.

“If you Google Cairo, the first thing that will come up will say, ‘the saddest town in America.’ It’s not the saddest town in America,” Jim Fredlund said.

Last December, Fredlund and six other community members decided it was time other people saw the town not for its downfall, but its history.

Together they started the Cairo Historical Preservation Project to help maintain the historic sites that are still left.

“The history of Cairo is long and buried,” Fredlund said.

The project assists in preserving four historical sites that are currently closed or in need of renovation.

Those sites include:

  • Cairo Public Library - The building is over a century old
  • The Custom House - One of the few surviving U.S. custom houses
  • The Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church - This building is said to have been a participating station of the underground railroad
  • Magnolia Manor - A Victorian-period house turned museum

“It’s a constant job for us to keep this museum up and going,” said Tim Slapinski, the curator of the Magnolia Manor.

Slapinski said the museum already had a hard time receiving donations and assistance for years.

The pandemic didn’t help the financial strain.

“Then the economy got better, then we started picking back up and then COVID hit,” Slapinski said.

Fredlund explained the project is not to revitalize the area, but maintain the historic sites still here.

“They say, it’s such a shame, we wish it could be this way, and that’s not the purpose of this. We’re not trying to restore Cairo back to what is was,” Fredlund said.

Fredlund said he hopes the project can help to show those who don’t know much about Cairo, all it has to offer.

“We want to change that perception. There is still something worth people to come and see in Cairo,” Fredlund said.

Fredlund said the project is currently accepting donations and volunteers.

Click here for more information.

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