Sikes House a place to live, work for university president

Karen and Jesse Rogers, Midwestern State University president, invite Student Government Association senators and officers into Sikes house Oct 7 for a reception and tour. Photo by Lauren Roberts

Karen and Jesse Rogers, Midwestern State University president, invite Student Government Association senators and officers into Sikes house Oct 7 for a reception and tour. Photo by Lauren Roberts

At just three years older than University President Jesse Rogers, the Sikes House was built in 1938 and has been used as the President’s home since 1975. The house was purchased by MSU from the Sikes family in 1970.

Sikes House serves not only as the residence for the president and his wife, Karen, but also hosts receptions for students, faculty, deans and dignitaries.

“A major part of the president’s job is to entertain. To make the university stronger the president has to build relationships with people in order to benefit the university,” said Karen. “It wouldn’t mean as much to have a meeting in the Hardin building or in a conference room but to be able to bring them into the presidents home. A home that is lived in helps to raise money for the school.”

Before the Student Government Association meeting Oct. 7, Rogers hosted senators from SGA and gave a tour of the house. Ten to 12 receptions are held in Sikes house each year, she said.

While the house is just across Midwestern Parkway from the university, it’s often out of sight and out of mind for students.

Meagan Piehler, mass communication sophomore, said, “I’ve driven by the house so many times thinking ‘Oh, that’s Sikes House,’ but when we were on the way I didn’t remember where it was.”

Sikes House has never needed to be restored. The Sikes family and the University have been the only owners and the goal is to keep the house as original as possible.

“A previous President of the university painted the hand-carved moldings at the entrance of the house burgundy,” Rogers said. “It was against the style of the home and was the first thing we changed when we moved in.”

When the house was first built, Taft was nothing but a dirt road with wheat fields, cattle, and Louis Sikes’ private fishing lake, now known as Sikes Lake.

Piehler said, “I like how it looks antique and the paintings are interesting. I feel like we are walking through history.”

In 1937, the Hardin building had finished construction not far from the Sikes estate and the Wichita Falls Junior College moved from its first home in Wichita Falls High School to the Hardin building where the junior college was renamed Hardin Junior College in honor of Mr. and Mrs. John G. Hardin. The same year university presidents started living in Sikes House the Texas Legislature renamed the school name to Midwestern State University.

After greeting the senators as they entered the home, President Rogers walked students though the living room, the study, a sunroom where he takes his morning coffee, and into the basement.

President Rogers said, “Louis Sikes was a true Texas oil and cattle man. His basement was his man cave.”

In the basement, original paintings from when the house was built hang on the walls and cowhide rugs line the floor. The basement is called the “Ranch Room,” and just like the rest of the house, little has changed since the Sikes lived there.

Whitney Hogue, vocal education junior, said, “I’m scared I’m going to mess something up. It’s too fancy for me. I’m scared of the cowhide rugs.”

On May 9, Jesse Rogers announced his retirement and plans to retire on Aug. 31, 2015. Rogers, who has served as MSU’s president since 2001, is only the fourth president to live in Sikes house.

“It is a joy and pleasure to live here.” Karen Rogers said, “We hope that they next president and his or her family will protect the style of the home.”

 

Previous Presidents who lived in Sikes House

John G. Barker served as the school’s President from 1974 until 1980. 6 years

Louis J. Rodriguez served as the school’s President from 1981 until 2000. 19 years

Henry Moon served as the school’s President from 2000 until 2001. 1 year