William B. “Bill” Wiener Jr.
A passion for preservation led William B. “Bill” Wiener Jr. to ensure that the stories of individuals, communities and cultures aren’t lost.
“We make so many decisions based on history,” he said. “I don’t understand why people are not interested in their past.”
Wiener grew up in Shreveport, part of a family that excelled in architecture and law. His father and an uncle were renowned architects who brought the International Style to Louisiana and other parts of the south.
Following in their footsteps, Bill Wiener became an architect and returned to Shreveport to live and work. Besides creating homes and commercial buildings that blended modern and traditional styles, he promoted preservation of historic buildings and neighborhoods. He was active in several development and preservation groups and attended most Shreveport city council meetings to speak about planning, zoning and preservation issues.
He also found time to design colorful, abstract sculptures that grace his backyard and the front yards of his neighbors on Longleaf Road in Shreveport. Tabletop sculptures, woven rugs and artwork he’s collected give his living room the feel of a museum. He lives in the family home his father designed in 1950, although Bill Wiener put his stamp on with remodeling. The house is one of a handful of buildings designed by his father and uncle that still stand in Shreveport.
He and architect Kim Mitchell often worked together on award-winning art in the 1970s, including a logo for the Holiday in Dixie festival and a mural (pictured below) that greeted visitors to downtown Shreveport.
Wiener started donating to support historic preservation activities at LSUS in 1979. His gifts accumulated and laid the foundation for the William B. Wiener Jr. Endowed Professorship that supports the Northwest Louisiana Archives at LSUS’s Noel Memorial Library.
The archives will mark its 50th anniversary in 2024.
“I was in business with a professor in the math and computer department at LSUS,” Wiener said. “That’s how I got to work with some of the professors there. In the beginning, I worked with them to acquire materials. For example, if I knew a company was going out of business, I would let them know so they could try to get the materials for the archives.”
His architectural firm also designed the science building on the LSUS campus — and decades later Wiener still chuckles at the end run he made around what he considers stuffy state government rules.
“They said ‘No colored glass in the windows’ so on the plans I put ‘glass number so and so’. We put the blue glass in and they never took it out,” he said.
Wiener no longer works — “Today I’m just ‘tired’ and tomorrow I’ll be ‘retired’,” he jokes — but keeps in touch with family, friends and colleagues electronically. An early adopter of personal computers, he even operated a digital-only publication in the early 1980s–the I.B.Magazette. He and business partners delivered content to IBM PC users on diskettes, allowing the users to try samples of commercial software and share home-made programs.
He remains dedicated to helping preserve the past and still consults with archivist Dr. Laura McLemore about acquisitions for the archives.
“I’ve made so many connections over the years,” he said. “What I do now is try to put two people together, to connect them.”