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"A GEM OF THE UNIVERSITY"
REVISITING A LANDMARK: THE HEYMANN HOUSE
Maurice Heymann was one of Lafayette's leading businessmen through the first half of the 20th century. His concept of a complex of offices for the oil industry became the Oil Center, and Lafayette became headquarters for state oil and gas operations. The city boomed.
The Heymann House was built on East St. Mary Boulevard near UL Lafayette for Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Heymann. It has a rich history and is one of Lafayette's most recognized landmarks.
Herbert Heymann, son of Maurice Heymann, noted that, ironically, the house was almost never built: "We were renting a home on Lafayette Street near what's now the Lafayette Museum, and my dad offered to buy the house but the owner refused. If he had sold it, this house would have never been built."
Once the rental house was out of the question, Heymann commissioned architect A. Hays Town in 1936 to develop plans for the house on property that was then a potato field with one tree.
As a youngster, Herbert Heymann spent many years across the street at what was then the center of the University's athletic complex. Following in the footsteps of his late father, Herbert Heymann has long been a major supporter of UL Lafayette. In 1991 he sold the house to the UL Lafayette Alumni Association. At the time of the sale of the house, he stated: "I don't know who I would want living in this house other than the university alumni. I have nothing but fond memories of growing up in this house, which I have always thought of as part of the UL Lafayette campus." In recognition of his tireless efforts to support UL Lafayette, the Alumni Association honored Herbert Heymann at the 1997 Spring Gala. Herbert Heymann died on April 10, 2001.
The Heymann House continues to serve UL Lafayette as the UL Lafayette Alumni Center and has become a focal point of the University. The well-constructed foundation of the Heymann House supports a rich history and promises to continue to contribute to the future of UL Lafayette.
Source: Calvin Lear, The Advocate, December 27, 1993, and interviews with Herbert Heymann on August 31, 1994 and A. Hays Town on August 3, 1994.
ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY OF THE HEYMANN HOUSE
In 1936, Maurice Heymann, one of Lafayette's leading entrepreneurs, was searching for an architect to design his wife's dream house. A young architect from Crowley, A. Hays Town, prepared and submitted proposed architectural plans for the Heymann House. Heymann was reluctant to hire a young architect for such an important job. However, Town's preliminary sketches convinced Heymann of the young architect's capabilities.
After reviewing the plans, Heymann chose the "French Provincial" version of the design because Mrs. Heymann was from France. The house was a magnificent synthesis of modern and traditional elements and it evoked the aura of history rendered through modern technology. The concrete house provided an interesting contrast with the UL Lafayette campus situated nearby; it reflected a modern tone among the traditional structures of old Lafayette.
All details of the house were designed by Mr. Town, including the light fixtures and wrought iron stairway. Mrs. Heymann was a talented pianist and therefore a round cupola was designed as part of the living room to showcase her grand piano.
Like many of Town's designs, the house blended into the surrounding landscape. The plan was organized around a grand two-story foyer containing a curving staircase graced with a metal railing composed in a repeating circular pattern. The house provided Town with an opportunity for formal experimentation, as well as a thorough test of his compositional skills.
The Heymann House was the first house Mr. Town designed in Louisiana. In 1994, he said that "it is probably the best structure I ever designed."
The Heymanns were extremely pleased with the house and later became Town's most enthusiastic supporters.
Source: Professor of Architecture David H. Sachs, University of Kansas, and conversations with Herbert Heymann and A. Hays Town in August, 1994.
RENOVATIONS TO THE HEYMANN HOUSE UNITE UL LAFAYETTE ALUMNI
In 1994, the UL Lafayette Alumni Association commenced renovations to the UL Lafayette Alumni Center, formerly known as the Heymann House. The French chateau-style house was designed in 1936 by renowned architect A. Hays Town for the late Maurice Heymann.
Heymann's son, Herbert Heymann, sold the house to the UL Lafayette Alumni Association in 1991 and, due to his continued philanthropic efforts, a renovation campaign transformed the former landmark to a new focal point of the campus. It will be used as offices for the university's scholarship, development and advancement sections.
Funds to finance the project are being secured by the Alumni Center Capital Campaign Committee chaired by Robert Trahan. The initial contribution was made by UL Lafayette's Alumni by Choice Chapter, a group consisting of 124 people who graduated from other universities. Financial support for the project is also coming from many UL Lafayette alumni including the former owner, Herbert Heymann.
The UL Lafayette Alumni Center, with its rich history, embodies the dedication and spirit of the university. Just as the strong roots of the large oaks which surround the landmark reach deep into Acadiana's history, the "old Heymann House" evokes fond memories of the past, as well as hopes for the future of the university.
Source: UL Lafayette Office of Public Relations and News Services, August, 1994.
ALUMNI ASSOCIATION ADDITIONS
The Board Room
In the Fall of 1996, the Alumni Center Board Room was dedicated as a multi-purpose facility located on the grounds of the Alumni Center, behind the Alumni House. The Board Room is used as the on-campus press conference site and as such is used by the University President and other campus dignitaries to address the media. It also serves as a meeting place for various campus clubs and organizations, such as the Alumni Council, who meet there twice a year. The Board Room can be set up in seminar or theatre style configurations to complement individual meeting requirements.
The U.S. Senator John B. Breaux Wing
At the 1998 Annual Spring Gala, the U.S. Senator John B. Breaux Wing of the UL Alumni Center was dedicated. The alumni wing today houses the offices of the staff of the Alumni Assocation and is located behind the Alumni House in the Alumni Courtyard. It contains six offices, a conference room, a lobby and a workroom complete with mailing equipment, fax machines and copier. Yet to be completed is the second story of the wing and is currently used as a storage area for the Association's archives, event supplies and numerous props.
On-campus organizations or departments are welcome to book the Alumni Center for an upcoming event. Please call 337.482.0900 for a booking form.
The mission of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Alumni Association is to promote good fellowship among alumni; to strengthen the ties of loyalty and devotion of alumni to their alma mater; and to at all times further the interests of the institution.