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U.S. Custom House, Cairo

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. When Cairo built a new post office in 1942, the building became the town's police station. The building is one of the few surviving U.S. customs 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 original purpose of the Custom House was to house the offices which dealt with collecting duties and tariffs on international imports which had not been offloaded before they reached Cairo on their way up the Mississippi River
The customs house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 24, 1973. It now serves as a history museum.
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U.S. Custom House Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
12 reviews
  • Wonderful visit to a unique town. Such history to explore. Lunch in town at Shemwells was full of locals and the bbq was unique. Spend lots of time at the US Customs House. Amazing history and the gui...  more »
  • This place is amazing and very interesting. I love history and this place is full of local history. If you have children, I doubt they have ever seen some of the items that they will see here.  more »
  • Really excellent experience learning about Cairo. The tour guide volunteer was fantastic, very friendly, honest, and taught us a lot. They deserve more visitors than they get!
  • Informative and friendly. Would like to visit again

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