​Safford Memorial Building

​The Cairo Public Library's ​A.B. Safford Memorial Building​ is a monument to the love, devotion, and civic-minded foresight of Mrs. Anna Eliza Safford.

​A.B. Safford, Mrs. Safford's husband died in 1877. Seven years later on July 19, 1884, Mrs. Safford presented this building to the citizens of Cairo in his memory. . .  ​

Welcome to ​the Cairo Public Library


Don't Forget to Visit These Attractions Wh​en Visiting the         Cairo, Illinois Public Library

The Hewer
Presented to the City of Cairo in 1906

​The Hewer was created by sculptor George Grey Bernard and cast in bronze by Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company. The sculpture was commissioned by Miss Mary Halliday, a friend of the artist and was displayed at the 1904 Worlds Fair in St. Louis. The sculpture was presented to the City of Cairo by in 1906 by Mrs. W.P. Halliday and children in memory of Capt. William Parker Halliday. The Hewer depicts a nude man hewing and dragging wood to save the people from death and destruction from a flood.

Customs House
​Now Serving as a Museum

The Old Custom House is a historic government building in downtown ​Cairo, Illinois. Built from 1869 to 1872, the building served as a customs house, post office, and courthouse. Alfred B. Mullett, the U.S. Supervising Architect at the time, designed the building in the Italianate style, a rarity among federal buildings; his design features a bracketed cornice and rounded windows. ​

The building is one of the few surviving U.S. custom houses and one of the largest federal buildings of its era in the Mid-Mississippi Valley region.The site for the custom house was chosen in 1859 by Illinois Senator (and Abraham Lincoln’s opponent in the 1860 presidential campaign) Stephen A. Douglas. In 1866, John A. Logan returned to Congress and lobbied successfully for fifty thousand dollars to start construction, with fifty thousand dollars allocated each following year until construction was completed. Construction began in 1867, and the building opened to the public on the evening of June 16, 1872.

The custom house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 24, 1973.  It now serves as a history museum.  Open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Phone:  618-734-9632. 

Confluence of the Rivers
​Where Two Rivers Meet

The Ohio River becomes a tributary of the Mississippi River directly south of Cairo, Illinois, ​on the spit of land where the rivers converge​. ​

Cairo became a prosperous port following the Civil War due to increased riverboat and railroad commerce. Small features visible in the image on the Ohio are river barges, which indicate the continued importance of Cairo as a transport hub. ​

​"Nobody ​Can Share the History of Cairo Better Than The Locals . . . ​"

​Monica Smith, Director of the Library, has worked at the Cairo Public Library for over 25 years.  She has been instrumental in growing and maintaining the wealth of items within the library offering historical significance as well as enriching the lives of Cairo and surrounding residents with the ​books, periodicals, local events, and history.

​Monica Smith
​Director of the Library
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