By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer
Debbie and Eddie Sherman arrived at Miller Chapel on a hot May day to find the air conditioning switched off, but rather than let that mar their wedding, it became something to look back on and laugh about.
Forty three years later, the Sherman’s returned to Miller Chapel— this time with working air conditioning— for one last chance to visit the place they tied the knot.
Saturday’s open house at Miller Chapel gave members of the Baylor community the opportunity to reminisce about their experiences with the chapel. Located in the Tidwell Bible Building, Miller Chapel will soon be repurposed for use as office space.
The Baylor University statement announcing the open house said Miller Chapel served as the school’s “primary sacred space” for decades.
For Debbie and Eddie Sherman, Miller Chapel was a natural choice for their wedding because of the personal connection to the venue.
“When we decided on a date to get married my church was being renovated, so this was the first place I thought about,” Debbie Sherman said. “It was, of course, very special because [Eddie] went to Baylor, and I didn’t go to Baylor but I grew up here.”
Speaking about the heat inside Miller Chapel, Debbie Sherman said she believes no wedding can go completely according to plan, and that the lack of air conditioning didn’t ruin her special day.
“The rehearsal was here, and it was freezing. Then we came in that day and the air conditioner was off,” Debbie Sherman said. “Something is always going to happen at a wedding that is unexpected. Sometimes you can be prepared for it— you can bring your bag of goodies with safety pins and bobby pins and needle and thread, but some things you don’t have any control over. We just made the best of it.”
The couple only visited Miller Chapel a couple of times in the decades since their wedding. Eddie Sherman said that made Saturday’s visit even more important.
“When we read that it was being remodeled it sort of upset my wife, but she’s more sentimental than I am,” Eddie Sherman said. “We made a point to come [to the open house] because it’s probably the last time we’ll see it like this. It’s too pretty of a place just to see it go away,” Eddie Sherman said.
Debbie Sherman shared Eddie’s view, believing office use is a sad end to a historic space.
“I was very sad — I couldn’t believe that they were going to turn this into office buildings,” Debbie Sherman said.
Paula McKeehan graduated from Baylor in 1996 and spent a lot of time in Miller Chapel and in Tidwell.
“As a student, I had old and new testament in this building, and I would come in here for quiet moments and pray— pray for a husband and pray for who I was going to meet,” McKeehan said.
In 2000, McKeehan married her husband Clint in Miller Chapel.
“One of the things I remember about when we got married here— it was finals week for students,” McKeehan said. “We were seeing students going in and out of classes while we were getting ready for our wedding.”
For McKeehan, Miller Chapel is not a space that can be replaced.
“It’s heartbreaking. I know there’s other chapels on campus and that’s what they say, but for 50 years it has been a chapel where people got married and it’s very special,” McKeehan said. “When we first started dating and I wanted to show him Baylor, I brought him back and this is one of the first places we came.”