An ACU alumnus renovated a historic building near downtown Abilene and had it featured on the TODAY show Friday.
Built two years before electricity came to Abilene, the Sayles Landmark is now perhaps the most unique structure in the city. What was once the of home Henry Sayles, a notable lawyer in the late 1800s, is now a six-room bed and breakfast – or as the owner and ACU graduate Terry Browder would have it, “Boutique Hotel Alternative.”
“There is no other place in town like this,” Browder said. “On one hand, it has the luxuries of any hotel, but on the other, it is historical and innovative and a true work of art.”
The TODAY show listed the Sayles Landmark as one of the best Valentine’s Day getaways for less than $200 a night. It was one of five locations that made the list.
Browder acquired the property four years ago and finished its renovations in late November. He is the third family to own the house since the Sayles, but not even in 1889 did the estate look this good.
Each of the six bedrooms comes with a full bathroom and its own theme. For instance, the Judges’ Chambers is a first-floor room with wallpaper made out of the bindings of Texas law books. A second-floor room, called Heavenly Rest, has a bed frame made from gothic stained glass windows and 100-year-old English church pews. Still, the house’s crown jewel is the Lux, the bridal suite.
“It is the nicest room from Fort Worth to El Paso,” Browder said.
The Sayles Landmark is more than just antiques. The entire house has Wi-Fi, each room has a 50-inch flat screen TV and every bedside comes with two USB ports.
“It offers everything a hotel does and then a little something special,” said Danna Swayden, a former guest at Browder’s prosperities.
Still to be completed is a 2,000-square-foot arbor intended for outdoor weddings. Complete with Abilene brick and antique white roses, the arbor should be done in early spring.
Browder graduated from ACU in 1976 with a degree in art. He has spent his entire career in real estate but began to renovate guest homes 12 years ago. Of his 10 properties, the Sayles Landmark is what he calls his “grandest effort.”
“I try to create intrigue and emotion in my design,” Browder said. “The same way a piece of art invokes a feeling, I want our guest to feel something powerful when they stay here.”