What is the Heywood Building?

Why is it Important?

Originally built in 1903, the Heywood Building is easily the most recognized and beloved building in the City of Jennings.  It sits on the corner of Main Street and Market Street downtown, directly across from the future home of the Jennings City Hall and the Zigler Art MuseumThe building was remodeled in the 1930s into a stunning art-deco jewel, composed of three triangular stories and encased in shining black glass and marble.  This beautifully built and situated building has served a number of functions over the course of our history, from the offices of the Heywood Oil Syndicate, to a retail store, a hair salon, and even the local campaign headquarters for John F. Kennedy in 1960.  It’s the kind of architectural treasure that any city should be proud to feature on a tour of downtown.

However…

The building has been empty for over a decade and has fallen on hard times.  The roof is gone.  Foliage grows on the ground floor.  Windows are broken.  Ceilings have collapsed.  The sidewalks around the edifice have had to be closed, to protect passers-by from falling bricks and mortar.  And the beautiful black glass that once made the Heywood Building so distinctive and arresting, falls off in bigger chunks every day.  The building, a gorgeous and functional piece of the history of our town and our community, has become a blight on our downtown.  In fact, it was scheduled for demolition last August.

But there is hope!

A grassroots effort is underway to not only restore the Heywood Building to its former glory, but also to return its status as a functional and necessary part of downtown Jennings.  The building has been saved from demolition and given a second chance at an even better modern life, but there is so much left to do.

Who owns the building?

The Heywood Building in its current form has been donated to the Jeff Davis Arts Council (JDAC), a non-profit organization which provides live performances, arts education, and arts engagement to the people of our community.  The JDAC is excited about tackling this restoration project for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • The JDAC has staff that can support the project.
  • The Heywood Building will provide desperately-needed office and exhibit space.
  • The location of the building is ideal, situated across from the Zigler Art Museum.
  • This new location will allow the JDAC to develop a higher profile in the community, which will enhance fundraising and allow it to increase programming.
  • The Mayor and the City Council of Jennings have agreed to study the possibility of establishing a cooperative endeavor that will allow the coordination of programming for all the cultural institutions in downtown Jennings: The W.H. Tupper General Merchandise Museum, The Children’s Telephone Pioneer Museum, The Zigler Art Museum, and the Strand Theatre.  The Heywood Building would be an ideal headquarters for this artistic and educational alliance.

What do we want to do with it?

The Heywood Building will be the ideal venue to serve several sorely-needed functions in our community.  Once completed, the possibilities for its use include:

  • Office space for the Jeff Davis Parish Arts Council, including office space for the A Block Off Broadway Community Theatre and the Historic Strand Theatre
  • Office space for the charitable Fred B. and Ruth B. Zigler Foundation
  • Exhibit space for historical information, artifacts, and memorabilia from the Zigler Art Museum Collection as well as private collections, in order to preserve and promote the history of Jennings and Jeff Davis Parish
  • And other uses that our fertile minds are still working out!

What will it take to restore the building to its former glory?

We’re glad you asked!  The state of the building has been assessed and discussed in detail over the course of many months, with contractors, builders, restoration experts, and even a glass guru, from all over the USA.  What we know for sure is that the following are imperative:

  • We must remove the remaining debris from the interior roof and floors.
  • We must stabilize the walls by installing the interior support structure for a second floor, and all necessary support structures to secure the walls.
  • We must install a roof (that’s right… there’s no roof…), windows, and doors that will weather-proof the building and serve to stop the leaking that is affecting the attached building through the common wall.
  • We must clean and restore the existing plumbing in the building.
  • We must remove the exterior glass and stucco that is in danger of falling from the walls, and restore the exterior of this art-deco gem to its original magnificence.

How can you help?

Many people in our region have commented in the news and on social media that they are sorry the Heywood Building is to be demolished.  Now is our chance to pull together as a community and make this restoration project successful!  A handful of extremely generous donors has already committed to give $155,000 to the project, if the remaining $100,000 needed can be raised by the community.  We are working tirelessly to save this piece of our shared history, but we can’t do it alone.  Any donation, no matter how small, will go a long way toward restoring the Heywood Building, preserving our past, and beautifying our community.

You can make a donation by clicking here.