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Renovated Sikes Hall to reopen with new name

Abilene Christian University’s Sikes Hall, originally opened 1977, is undergoing renovation and is closed for the 2023-24 academic year. When it reopens in August 2024, it will sport a new look – and a new name.

Its reopening will coincide with the permanent closure of Mabee Hall, and Sikes will be rechristened as Mabee Hall in recognition of a $5 million grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation for the renovation.


Sikes Hall is currently undergoing renovation and will reopen as Mabee Hall in Fall 2024.

The renovation will update the hall, which originally opened in 1977, to include additional common spaces on each floor, similar to Bullock and Wessel halls. The hall will house first-year students as part of the Freshman Village project, a comprehensive renovation and construction campaign for residence halls along East North 16th Street to better meet the living and learning needs of students.

The lack of common spaces in Sikes meant students rarely spent time outside of their rooms within the hall and missed out on community-building opportunities, according to Kevin Campbell (’00), ACU’s senior vice president for operations. In order to add common spaces and minimize the impact on capacity, the renovation will feature a 7,000-square-foot, three-level addition in the center of the building’s west side, which faces Wessel Hall and will serve as the new main entrance. Each level will include renovated lounge, huddle and study spaces. 

The renovation will also allow it to accommodate both men and women in separate parts of the building in updated rooms. An additional entrance on the building’s east side will make the parking lot near the Williams Performing Arts Center more convenient for hall residents.

The $8 million renovation is being made possible largely thanks to a grant from the Mabee Foundation – the namesake of ACU’s current Mabee Hall and Mabee Business Building and benefactor for a number of projects across campus over the past 73 years. Read more about ACU’s long partnership with the Mabee Foundation in the Fall-Winter 2024 edition of ACU Today

“We are deeply grateful for the tremendous investment the Mabee Foundation has made in Abilene Christian University over the span of our partnership,” said ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “We stand strong today, poised to expand our reach as a Christ-centered national university, thanks in part to the Mabee Foundation’s foresight and generosity.”

Thanks to the additional capacity gained when the the larger Bullock and Wessel halls opened in 2022 and 2023, respectively, the university was already planning to permanently close the current Mabee Hall, which opened in 1953, this fall.


The current Mabee Hall, which opened in 1953, will be permanently closed this fall. A gift from the Mabee Foundation toward the Sikes renovation ensures the name will live on.

“Mabee Hall served our campus well for 71 years,” Campbell said. “But the construction of the larger Bullock and Wessel halls in 2022 and 2023, followed by the reopening of Sikes, will allow us to further consolidate our first-year-student housing in new or recently renovated facilities as part of the Freshman Village project.”

Campbell said the university explored renovation options for Mabee Hall – the oldest active dorm on campus – but they proved to be cost-prohibitive compared to other alternatives.

Upon its opening, Mabee was described by the Dallas Morning News as “one of Texas’ largest dormitories.” Before then, male students were being housed in temporary barracks, following a boom in enrollment after World War II. Since then, a majority of men on campus have called Mabee home at some point. For many kids who attend ACU Leadership Camps in the summer, the residence hall is their first taste of campus life, well before they are college students.

The building’s importance to the fabric of campus life did not go unnoticed by the Mabee Foundation.

“When we found out there was a chance the building might be closed, our board was interested in maintaining the Mabee Hall name at ACU because it has been such an important part in the life of so many students over the years,” said Michael Goeke, executive director of the Mabee Foundation.


William Claude and Vera Sikes in front of the newly opened Sikes Hall in 1977.

The gift toward the Sikes renovation ensures the name will live on.

The university originally broke ground for Sikes Hall near the corner of East North 16th Street and Judge Ely Boulevard on a cold January day in 1977 – local media described the event as an ice breaking rather than a groundbreaking. The $1.4 million project employed a modular design – a style used in some motels at the time – meaning each individual room was prefabricated by a company in San Antonio and then moved to Abilene and installed in the building. At the time, it was the only on-campus residence hall with private bathrooms in each room.

The facility opened in August 1977 and housed just over 200 women. It was named in honor of William Claude and Vera Sikes. William first arrived in Abilene at Childers Classical Institute in 1909 and graduated from Abilene Christian College in 1921 after taking time off to teach and serve in the Army Medical Corps in World War I. He began teaching at Abilene Christian High School in 1921, taught in the mathematics department at ACU and retired in 1959 after 38 years of service to the university. Vera graduated from ACC in 1926, taught at Abilene Christian Schools, served as a dorm hostess on campus as well as dean of women. She retired in 1963 after 36 years with the university.

The university plans to honor the Sikes family, which has a multi-generational legacy on campus, with signage in the renovated facility.

— Jonathan Smith
Feb. 15, 2024

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