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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Sweeney Automobile and Tractor School
Reference Number 14000142
State Missouri
County Jackson
Town Kansas City
Street Address 215 West Pershing Road
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 4/11/2014
Areas of Significance EDUCATION
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The Sweeney Automobile and Tractor School (Sweeney School) is locally significant under Criteria A and B in the area of EDUCATION and for its association with Emory J. Sweeney. The Sweeney School, which opened in 1917, is the building most directly associated with E. J . Sweeney's contribution to the field of vocational education as the developer of a widely successful and innovative instructional program. Sweeney, an adept businessman, capitalized on the growing field of automotive repair and interest in vocational training. In 1908, as founder and president of the Sweeney Automobile and Tractor School, he developed and instructed in the "Sweeney System," a wholly unique method of hands-on teaching that combined practical experience with quality instruction. The Sweeney School is significant for its contribution to the field of vocational education. It grew to become one of the most successful automotive training schools in the country, prolifically advertising in national publications and drawing students from a nationwide pool. Fully believing in his product and understanding the nature of business, in 1917 Sweeney commissioned a grand building that, through its very appearance, would enhance the reputation of his school and support his future commercial endeavors. The location and setting directly opposite Union Station, the new train depot constructed in 1914, and the refined classically-inspired exterior of the building were part of his strategic plan to promote his business ventures and create an aura of prestige. Far more extravagant than the typical utilitarian garage utilized by other automobile training institutions, the character of the building rivaled grand downtown commercial buildings and increased both the status of the school as a leading automobile program and Sweeney's image as a prosperous businessman.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria