A historic former tobacco processing plant in southeast Indiana is being auctioned. Historic Madison Inc. says it is selling the Tobacco Prizing House as part of an effort to increase focus on its museums.
April 14, 2015
Madison, Ind. — A unique piece of southern Indiana history in a charming river town could be yours on May 8, the deadline for the sealed bid auction of Madison’s Tobacco Prizing House. Historic Madison, Inc. owns the warehouse at 106 Elm Street, which it has used for storage of architectural salvage. The organization decided to sell the landmark as part of an effort to reduce its property holdings and focus on its museums. Historic Madison operates the Schroeder Saddletree Factory and Jeremiah Sullivan House, among others. It will use the sale proceeds for the restoration of the c.1846 Shrewsbury-Windle House, a National Historic Landmark.
Interested buyers will find a building that has already proven its adaptability. The two-story portion of the Tobacco Prizing House – which features a heavy timber truss system – was constructed c.1890 as a carriage house and stable. In 1904, the W. Trow and Company flour mill bought it for use as a cooperage, or barrel-making factory, enlarging the building with a one-story addition. A ghost sign on the west wall of the building dates to its use as an apron factory from 1919 until 1922.
The American Tobacco Company operated at the property from 1922 until 1970. Local tobacco farmers brought their harvests to the warehouse to be sorted, graded, baled, and shipped off for further processing. Rare tobacco prizing equipment remains in place, including two sets of floor scales and a hydraulic press used to bale the tobacco, believed to be one of only a few examples of its type remaining in the U.S.
Because of its historical significance, the Tobacco Prizing House has been documented by the Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, a unit of the National Park Service. Large-scale architectural measured drawings show many of the details of the building, including much of its machinery. The information is in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress and is also available online at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/in0345/.
To attend the private auction, a sealed offer ($95,000 minimum) must be submitted by 2 p.m. on May 8. For the complete bid rules and more about Historic Madison, Inc., visit www.historicmadisoninc.com.
Source: Indiana Landmarks