Heritage Hall’s mission is to provide education in and enjoyment of the Arts to the greater Talladega community and facilitate the celebration and understanding of our rich history. The Museum and Arts Center, located in the heart of Talladega's historic Silk Stocking District, has been open to the public since 1979. Housed in the former Jemison-Carnegie Public Library building originally built in 1908, Heritage Hall is outfitted as an exhibition space and historical archive. Architecture buffs will appreciate the soaring 18 foot ceilings and classic interior columns of the Beaux Arts Classic style building, as well as the rare freestanding staircase leading down to the intimate, less formal lower galleries.
Heritage Hall mounts a number of major shows each year in the Main Galleries. Exhibitions focus on individual local and regional artists, group shows with relevant themes, works from Arts Enrichment programs in schools, as well as shows focused on local and county history, self-taught artists working with multiple media, pottery and folk artists. “Living Exhibits”, featuring artists creative exhibits “live” at the museum, are a recent addition.
Heritage Hall Museum and Arts Center also presents an arts enrichment program for elementary age students, which includes “Arts Camp for Kids” and “Art in the Schools”. Art classes, lectures and workshops are offered for arts enthusiasts and students of all ages. Lectures, workshops and cultural events are scheduled year-round, in collaboration with city and local area businesses and institutions. Heritage Hall is widely acknowledged as one of the vital cultural assets of East Central Alabama.
Two formal gallery spaces are located on the main floor. Gift shop and dining room wall space can be utilized for smaller exhibits. Lower galleries in the souterrain are most often used for workshops and classes, as well as permanent collection rotations.
The front door opens into a light-filled space with soaring 18ft ceilings. The open layout of both galleries allows for significant flexibility in arranging exhibits.
The “Foyer Gallery” is the culmination of the open foyer, separated by ceiling-high columns, creating an elegant but cozy exhibition space, ideal for smaller exhibits. Lighting is very good, with a large window centered in the space. The measurements are 23ft wide by 17ft deep.
The “Fireplace Gallery” is a large gallery space off the foyer to the left. Columns flanking the entrance achieve the architectural separation of this space from the foyer. Light floods the space throughout the day, with 2 large triple windows (straight bows) and 4 individual windows 10 feet high. The measurements are 40ft wide by 18ft deep.
The galleries lend themselves to hanging large works considering the 18ft ceiling height and generous proportions of the space. Dramatic displays of sculptures, pottery and other fine art can be accommodated.
Constructed in 1906, Jemison-Carnegie Heritage Hall was originally Talladega Public Library. This fine example of Beaux Arts Classic style is attributed to Frank Lockwood (1865-1936), a Montgomery, Alabama architect who is most noted for his additions to the State Capitol.
Ideally situated on South Street East in the heart of the National Register of Historic Places' "Silk Stocking District," Heritage Hall provides the community an opportunity to take advantage of Alabama's growing tourism industry. Its location is approximately 15 minutes travel time from interstate 20, which traverses central Alabama from east to west, and U.S. 231, which links Tennessee to Florida gulf coast, passing through the heart of Alabama. Two blocks north of Heritage Hall are Talladega's "Historic Square," another designated historic district, with access to thoroughfares Alabama 77 and Alabama 21.
A new building to house the library was completed in 1979 with a public dedication ceremony on September 30, 1979. In the months that followed the City Council of the City of Talladega established the Talladega Heritage Commission, delegating to its complete authority and control of the landmark Jemison-Carnegie Main Library Building. On October 7, 1981, the Council passed Ordinance No. 1130 and Ordinance No. 1133, thus giving the powers and responsibilities regarding the operation of a local museum and cultural center to this Commission. The goals of the Commission included the adaptive restoration of the building as a permanent not-for-profit institution and provision of access to quality arts experiences and the humanities.
Jemison-Carnegie Foundation, a fund-raising, membership and support organization, was then incorporated, specifically structured to include input from every area of community interest and activity. In addition to organizing fund-raising activities and membership, the Foundation sponsors the Jemison-Carnegie Heritage Hall Service Guild.
The purpose of the Service Guild is to enrich, stimulate and promote awareness, appreciation, and knowledge of the Arts for children, adults, members, and many others, through a program of arts education which may include lectures, films, exhibits, and tours. This organization provides volunteers for the Docent Program of Jemison-Carnegie Heritage Hall.
Heritage Hall Museum continues to expand its exhibitions, arts enrichment programs, workshops and events to serve as a center of cultural Heritage and quality arts experiences for Talladega and surrounding communities.