Described by locals as being “Queen Anne,” I would say that the A.B. Safford Library is more an eclectic mix of various styles,with strong Romanesque Revival elements. Regardless, it is a stunning building, whose excellent condition clashes with much of the desolation around it. Inside the 1884 structure is a very nice, and surprisingly high quality collection of antiques from Italy. There is no Raphael painting, despite the claims of many tour books, including AAA’s. I examined the painting, and it is most likely Seventeenth Century, long after his death. Its not even close to his style or one of his followers. Perhaps it’s a little bit emblematic of Cairo, hoping for greatness that has passed it by.
The facade’s clean lines and lack ornamentation give a timeless quality to the building.
On either side of the front door, in two alcoves are statues of Roman goddesses.
The sloppy tuck-pointing in the alcoves is strange.
Across the street, one of the most beautiful Italianate public buildings I have ever seen in Alfred B. Mullet’s U.S. Customs House.
With a roofline that reminds me of the Pitti Palace in Florence, this elegant building is the star of the civic buildings in the city.
Its paired windows, with graceful, rounded windows punctuate a relatively unadorned facade. It opened with great fanfare in 1872, showing how important of a commercial center Cairo had become.
The interior is well-preserved and shows how the unique ornamentation continued inside the building. It is now a very nice museum on local history.