Two historic freight warehouses survive along the tracks in Cairo. As a shipping point for syrup, they were quite busy, especially during the 1930s, when the town gained attention as the nation’s leading cane syrup producer.
Cairo Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
A sign on this church dates the congregation to 1878, but further research suggests that it was established in the 1860s, likely during the Civil War. In its listing for the National Register of Historic Places, Brother George Donald said that Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church was “founded by African Americans who would slip off into the woods to pray in secret” and that the church began as “brush arbor” at Piney Grove, located southwest of Whigham. The 1878 date is likely when the congregation adopted the tenets of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
This lot was purchased from J. T. Harrell for $20 in 1878 and the first trustees were Brothers Thomas Young, Georgie Donald, Fortune Liphnidge, George Shackleford, and Even Swicord. They built a log church here, which served until it burned in 1920. The present church dates to that time. It served the congregation until the 1980s, when deterioration and dwindling membership saw worship move into the schoolhouse. Presently, the structure is stable but in serious need of further renovation.
Not unlike other Black congregations of the era, Ebenezer saw the importance of education and built this one-room schoolhouse to serve their community circa 1930. Amazingly, it was the only school for African-Americans in Whigham until desegregation of the county in the early 1970s.
As recently as 2015, there were plans to renovate these historic storefronts but it appears that the work has stalled. Though identification of the buildings has proven difficult, the three-story example is known as the Stanfill Building and dates to 1911. My understanding is that it was first used as a department store.
In 2011, Tom Lavender wrote: In 1957, I worked at Taylor’s Grocery the corner building. if my memory serves me right next to it was Choen’s dry goods. One of the upstairs offices was a Doctors office.