Riverlore Mansion is a stately white French Second Empire Style Mansion nestled quietly in Cairo's residential section at 28th and Washington Avenues, once known as "Millionaire's Row." Riverlore Mansion is an 11 room brick home built in 1865 by Captain William Parker Halliday, a prominent Cairo businessman and riverboat captain. Captain Halliday resided at his beloved Riverlore Mansion from its completion to his death in 1899. Many of the mansion's features were chosen by Captain Halliday to remind him of his time spent on the water. For example, the flat mansard roof features a glassed-in pilots house and low, cast-iron fencing, which resembles the deck of a river boat.
Halliday was extremely influential in the southern Illinois area. He acquired his fortune in the early days of the Civil War. After working as a newspaper printer and clerk, he became a part owner of an Ohio River steamboat. He had four younger brothers, which formed the firm Halliday Brothers. Captain Halliday held controlling interest "in the City National Bank, Cairo City Gas Company, and the Cairo Electric Light and Power Company" (Rissler). The Halliday Brothers also owned Cairo's famous Halliday Hotel. General Ulysses S. Grant used the Halliday Hotel as his headquarters in the beginning of the Civil War. Unfortunately, the hotel was destroyed by a fire in 1943. Captain Halliday also "owned lands in Arkansas, a hotel in Memphis, and furniture companies there and in New Orleans" (Rissler). He also invested north of Cairo. In Jackson County, he had coal and salt mines, and a large farm. He actually has a town named after him because of his investments in Jackson County, Hallidayboro. After his death, a famous statue was dedicated to Captain Halliday in Cairo's Halliday Park. The famous statue is known as "The Hewer," by George Grey Barnard. "The Hewer" was exhibited in the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.
Left to right: William Parker Halliday, Samuel Bennet Halliday, Edwin Warner Halliday, H.L. Halliday, Thomas Wyatt Halliday
Nearly a year after Captain Halliday's death, the Riverlore Mansion became the residence of Dr. John J. Rendleman, a physician and surgeon, and Mrs. Rendleman. Mrs. Rendleman is responsible for the development and landscaping of the grounds. Mrs. Rendleman selected all of the flowers, shrubs and trees, including the famous 100 year Gingko tree. The youngest daughter of the Rendleman's, Adelaide, recalled that the family admired the Gingko trees that were planted by the Chinese ambassador at Grant's Tomb in New York in 1913. The Rendleman's transformed one of the third floor rooms into a theater. The theater room is complete with a proscenium arch, curtain, footlights and backdrops. This room inspired Adelaide to pursue a stage career in theater in New York and Hollywood. Adelaide and her husband, Mr. Frederick J. Grieve, inherited the Riverlore Mansion. Frederick and Adelaide Grieve worked diligently to transform the Riverlore Mansion into a museum of the history of the Mississippi River. However, the plans never materialized.
The next resident of the mansion was William and Ann Wolter. Ann sold the home in 1999 to the City of Cairo. The City of Cairo intended for the mansion to made into a bed-and-breakfast, however these plans also never materialized.
After the Riverlore Mansion sat on the market for years, Matthew and Amanda Endrizzi, of rural Union County, officially closed on the mansion July 31st, 2019. A year before their purchase, the mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Matthew and Amanda will open the Riverlore Mansion as a bed-and-breakfast and wedding destination. The restoration of this historic mansion will be extensive, but Matthew and Amanda's goal is to have the grand opening in December 2020.
Rissler, Howard F (1957). Rendleman House - Museum of the Mississippi. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984), Vol. 50 No. 3, 295-307.