|Location||Appomattox County, Virginia|
|Nearest city||Appomattox, Virginia|
|Part of||Appomattox Court House National Historical Park (#66000827)|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
This building, constructed around 1790 to 1799, is the oldest structure in the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. The Sweeney prizery is a building that was a tobacco-packing house owned by Major Joel Flood in 1865. The local farmers would bring their crop of tobacco here to be packed in hogsheads for storage and later transport to the market. Many Confederate soldiers camped in this vicinity during the previous night of the surrender of the Confederate army to the Union army on April 9, 1865. The Sweeney prizery is located near the site of General Lee's headquarters. The Sweeney prizery was built primarily as a residence for Alexander Sweeney and the cellar used as a prizery for his business.
A prizery is a building where tobacco was "prized." Prized means the tobacco is pressed layer by layer into hogshead barrels, large casks or barrels to store and transport tobacco. These casks often weighed up to 1000 pounds. The tobacco plants were first "stemmed" (stripped of fibers) and then packed when the autumn harvest came in.
Tobacco is handled in a leaf stemmery. It is received in baskets from the warehouse and weighed. Then it is roughly graded by basketsfuls and stored in heaps waiting for stemming. The leaves are conditioned for handling. After stemming the "strips" are graded and bundled into "hands." These are straddled over sticks and put through drying and "prized" into hogsheads. The scrap tobacco resulting from handling the leaf was stored in bulk. When it was in sufficient quantity it was then cleaned in a sand reel, dried, and "prized."
The prizery is outstanding under certain criteria of the National Park Service for its distinctive characteristics of a tobacco packing house. The National Park Service points out it is of historical importance because of the association with the nineteenth century events of the village of Appomattox Court House (then also known as Clover Hill) and with the site of General Robert E. Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865.
The Sweeney prizery (tobacco packing house) is a single story structure with a loft and full cellar. The building was intended as a residence and prizery. It is about thirty six feet wide by sixteen feet deep. The prizery is built into a bank. The building has a foundation of rough-hewn sandstone that makes up the cellar walls. There is board sheathing on the inside of the exterior weatherboards.
The prizery cellar has no external openings except the three on the southeast side of two doors and a paired upward-opening casement. There are two brick external chimneys, one at each gable end. The interior ceilings are unplastered. The supports are heavily whitewashed. The front northwest elevation has two doors. The post-1865 east porch and "ell" addition was removed in 1959 when first mothballed. The Sweeney prizery was also called the Flood Tenant House and the St. Clair house. The foundation was stabilized in 1959 and again in 1979. In 1959 there was metal cover sheeting put in place to protect the wood clapboard walls and wooden shingled gable roof.
- Pictures of the Sweeney prizery as it looked in 1959.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.|
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