Sweeney Prizery

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Sweeney Prizery
Sweeney prizery north (front) and west elevation.png
Sweeney Prizery
Location Appomattox County, Virginia
Nearest city Appomattox, Virginia
Built ca. 1790s
Visitation 185,443[1] (2009)
Part of Appomattox Court House National Historical Park (#66000827[2])
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Hogshead

The Sweeney Prizery is a structure within the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.[3] It was registered in the National Park Service's database of Official Structures on June 26, 1989.[4]

History[edit]

Transporting goods in hogsheads

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.[5] The Sweeney prizery is located near the site of General Lee's headquarters.[6] The Sweeney prizery was built primarily as a residence for Alexander Sweeney and the cellar used as a prizery for his business.[4]

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.[7]

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."[8]

Historical significance[edit]

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.[9]

Physical description[edit]

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.[10]

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.[10]

Pictures of the Sweeney prizery as it looked in 1959.

Footnotes[edit]

Coffee, Tobacco & Dynamite
  1. ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. 
  2. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ Marvel, A place called Appomattox, has an extensive bibliography (pp. 369-383) which lists manuscript collections, private papers and letters that were consulted, as well as, newspapers, government documents, and other published monographs that were used in his research of Appomattox.
  4. ^ a b "Sweeney Prizery". Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  5. ^ Appomattox Court House: Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia, U.S. Department of the Interior
  6. ^ Scott, p. 282
  7. ^ "The Prizery". Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  8. ^ The Weekly Underwriter, Item notes: v.83 (1910:July-Dec.)
  9. ^ U.S. Government Printing Office, Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations for 1978, Item notes: v. 5, p. 501
  10. ^ a b Jon B. Montgomery; Reed Engle & Clifford Tobias (May 8, 1989). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Appomattox Court House / Appomattox Court House National Historical Park (version from Virginia Department of Historic Resources, including maps)" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying 12 photos, undated (version from Federal website) (32 KB) and one photo, undated, at Virginia DHR

Sources[edit]

  • Bradford, Ned, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Plume, 1989
  • Catton, Bruce, A Stillness at Appomattox, Doubleday 1953, Library of Congress # 53-9982, ISBN 0-385-04451-8
  • Catton, Bruce, This Hallowed Ground, Doubleday 1953, Library of Congress # 56-5960
  • Chaffin, Tom, 2006. Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah, Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux,.
  • Davis, Burke, The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts, Wings Books, 1960 & 1982, ISBN 0-517-37151-0
  • Davis, Burke, To Appomattox - Nine April Days, 1865, Eastern Acorn Press, 1992, ISBN 0-915992-17-5
  • Featherston, Nathaniel Ragland, Appomattox County History and Genealogy, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1998, ISBN 0-8063-4760-0
  • Gutek, Patricia, Plantations and Outdoor Museums in America's Historic South, University of South Carolina Press, 1996, ISBN 1-57003-071-5
  • Hosmer, Charles Bridgham, Preservation Comes of Age: From Williamsburg to the National Trust, 1926-1949, Preservation Press, National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States by the University Press of Virginia, 1981
  • Kaiser, Harvey H., The National Park Architecture Sourcebook, Princeton Architectural Press, 2008, ISBN 1-56898-742-0
  • Kennedy, Frances H., The Civil War Battlefield Guide, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990, ISBN 0-395-52282-X
  • Korn, Jerry et al., The Civil War, Pursuit to Appomattox, The Last Battles, Time-Life Books, 1987, ISBN 0-8094-4788-6
  • Marvel, William, A Place Called Appomattox, UNC Press, 2000, ISBN 0-8078-2568-9
  • Marvel, William, Lee's Last Retreat, UNC Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8078-5703-3
  • McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom, Oxford University Press, 1988,
  • National Park Service, Appomattox Court House: Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 2002, ISBN 0-912627-70-0
  • Scott, Kay W., Guide to the National Park Areas: Eastern States, 8th: Eastern States, Globe Pequot, 2004, ISBN 0-7627-2988-0
  • Tidwell, William A., April '65: Confederate Covert Action in the American Civil War, Kent State University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-87338-515-2
  • Weigley, Russel F., A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865, Indiana University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-253-33738-0
  • Underwriter Printing and Publishing Company, The Weekly Underwriter, 1910
  • Unrau, Harlan D, National Park Service, Denver Service Center, Historic Structure Report, Historical Data Section: The "Sweeney Prizery", Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Appomattox, Virginia ; Package No. 103 (project Type 35), U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Denver Service Center, 1981
  • United States Government Printing Office, Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations for 1978: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, Ninety-fifth Congress, First Session, 1977.
  • United States National Park Service. Division of Publications, Appomattox Court House: Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia, published by U.S. Department of the Interior, 2002, ISBN 0-912627-70-0