McMurry University – Old Main

2242 Hunt Street, Abilene (Taylor County)

“Old Main” was the first building constructed on the site of the original McMurry College, Abilene, Texas in 1923. The building, as well as the Master Plan, were designed by the noted period architectural firm of David S. Castle. Decades of heavy use, deferred maintenance, water infiltration and subsequent “updates” disguised and destroyed the features that gave the building its original historic character and impact. The abandoned and deteriorated auditorium became campus storage and was all but forgotten until the building was brought back to life as the center of a campus wide renovation program.

Top to bottom interior renovation, with a return to similar original corridor and classroom configuration with a focus on major circulation areas and the historic auditorium. Exterior facade completely cleaned and rehabilitated and new windows were installed to replicate the original windows. A glass enclosed link was included to provide access to a new elevator which stops at the 5 non-aligned levels between Old Main and the adjacent Cooke building. All asbestos containing material was removed which included multiple layers of VAT in most areas on the ground floor, as well as decaying unusual faux terrazzo type floors full of red and black asbestos containing “back-a-lite.” The entire first floor slab was failing and totally removed and replaced.

The building had been in constant use since its completion in 1923 and undergone many renovations which over time almost completely destroyed its original interior spaces as well as damage to the facades and windows. The originally un-airconditioned auditorium had been used for storage for the previous 50 years. The building was updated to provide accessibility to all areas except the historic concrete tiered balcony. The balcony was reconfigured into two tiered classrooms.

The major obstacle was the removal and replacement of all MPE systems as well as mediating rising damage from damp ground moisture. Water intrusion had destroyed the ground level floor and structural system. In many locations, 1960s era planting located too near the facades were contributing to the damage of the facade and the first floor slab. These plantings in all cases were removed and new landscaping was installed which preserved the simplicity of the original landscaping.

Student and alumni groups assisted the University in fundraising efforts.

Name of Building Owner: McMurry University
Project Architect’s Name and Firm: Rick Weatherl / Weatherl & Associates

Project Engineer’s Name and Firm: Lloyd Turner / WTA, Inc.
Project Contractor’s Name and Firm: Jed Crowe / Crowe Group