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Cairo Historical Preservation Project helps church built in the early 1900s

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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CAIRO, Ill. (KFVS) - Leaders in one Alexander County community want to preserve the city’s historic buildings before time takes anymore toll on them.

“It’s a marvelous time to build upon the history of Cairo,” said Don Patton, president of the Cairo Historical Preservation Project.

Patton said the preservation project received a grant to help the renovations of the Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church, which was built in the early 1900s.

“Recently we were funded by Landmarks Illinois, for a small grant of 2,500 dollars, to repair portions of the roof. And that’s just part of our project right now,” said Patton.

He said he wants to preserve many of Cairo’s historic buildings.

“We have a rich history of buildings here. And everyone is familiar with Custom House, Magnolia Manor, Cairo Public Library. We also decided to add Ward Chapel AM Church, A.M.E. church, excuse me, because of it’s celebrated history,” explained Patton.

Pastor of Ward Chapel A.M.E. Ronnie Woods said this preservation project is fantastic.

“I don’t want to see this building torn down and it would be probably if it wasn’t for this effort,” he said.

Woods said the roof has deteriorated over the last five years.

“When the preservation project came in, we were able to put the tarp on there and they’re moving forward with money. That helps a lot,” he said.

Woods, who also grew up in the chapel, has future plans once the church is renovated.

“Celebrate, do different types of programming. We are going to repurpose the church and repurposment of the church means that it won’t just be for church service or for congregation. It’ll be for the community to use,” he said.

As for Patton, he wants to preserve other buildings for others to enjoy.

“I see our organization building on the rich history and in other words, adding to it. Maybe attracting more tourism to come to Cairo, due to the confluence of the Mississippi and the Ohio rivers,” said Patton.

For more on the Cairo Historical Project, you can visit their website to learn more about their projects.

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