As the sounds of jackhammers echo throughout campus, it is difficult to ignore the ongoing renovation of the Tidwell Bible Building. On April 25, 2019, Baylor University announced a $15 million dollar gift from the Sunderland Foundation of Overland Park, Kansas dedicated to the Tidwell restoration fund. Less than a year later, the Baylor Board of Regents approved a total budget cost of $21.2 million for the project. The work began this summer and is projected to be completed in 2022.
Under construction from 1953 to 1954, the Tidwell Bible Building was named after the esteemed Dr. Josiah Blake Tidwell (1870–1946), former head of the Baylor Bible department, which later become the Department of Religion. Initially conceived in 1936 by former students of Dr. Tidwell, the building was a permanent homage to him as well as a physical representation of the significance of the Bible. Originally designed as a ten-story building with a “wall of light”, a more modest six-story building was ultimately built. The history of the building, what could have been, and what was, is a story often told. But how does one pay for a structure such as Tidwell? Therein lies an interesting tale…
The short answer is churches. According to a Certificate of Payment to Leslie Crocket Construction Co., the cost to physically build Tidwell was $590,000. (Considering inflation, that is an estimated $5,682,884 in today’s money.) Looking at the records of the Tidwell Bible Building Campaign Committee, it becomes very clear that Baptist churches throughout the state were major contributors to the building fund. Appealing to districts defined by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, churches of all sizes were solicited. For example, in 1944, First Baptist-Elm Mott donated $75, while Columbus Avenue Baptist Church donated $2,112.14 between 1944 and 1946 including amounts as low as $2.05. In spite of the Great Depression and World War II, by January 31, 1947, a total of $121,988.70 was raised. This amount, however, would not be enough.
In 1947, in an effort to raise the necessary funds, the Tidwell Bible Building Committee, in collaboration with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, approved a large-scale fundraising campaign. Setting an ambitious goal of $500,000, the committee “felt that the individual person approach was the best approach” to achieve said goal. Again, using the BGCT districts, the campaign focused mainly on churches and their membership. The Executive Committee minutes from their February 4, 1947 described the concerted effort thus:
“A plan whereby a solicitor from each church would contact members of his church, and ask them to fill out a pledge card, and select the plan of giving to the Bible Building Campaign Fund. These pledge cards would be sent to the churches all over the state and would be followed up by public appeals in sermons, and then presented to the members by a committee of solicitors.”
To oversee the fundraising campaign, Brother O.D. Martin from District 3 was employed full-time.  Setting monetary goals for each district to raise, he reported that “$515,000 worth of goals has been accepted by districts, churches, and association over the state.” The ledgers from 1947 and 1948 reveal churches from all over the state donating various amounts. First Baptist-El Paso donated $10 on September 9, 1947, while First Baptist-Amarillo donated over $3,000 between 1947 to 1949 usually in $100 payments. The concentrated effort paid off and by September 30, 1951, the building fund raised $628,665.02 (a little over $6 million in today’s money). Of course, not all donations came from churches. There were a significant number of individual donors in addition to Baylor University agreeing to contribute $100,000. However, it is undeniable that Baptist churches across Texas played an important role in making Tidwell Bible Building a reality.
 “Baylor Announces $15 Million Gift from The Sunderland Foundation for Tidwell Restoration,” Media and Public Relations | Baylor University, April 25, 2019, accessed August 27, 2020, https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=209144.
“Baylor Regents Celebrate Groundbreaking of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, Approve Final Phase of $21.2 Million Renovation of Tidwell Bible Building,” Media and Public Relations | Baylor University, February 24, 2020, accessed August 27, 2020, https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=217369.
 BU Records: Tidwell Bible Building Campaign Committee, Accession #BU/169, Box 2, Folder 22, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
 Ibid., Box 1, Folder 10.
 Ibid., Box 1, Folder 1.
 Ibid., Box 1, Folder 3.
 Ibid., Box 1, Folder 2.
 Ibid., Box 1, Folder 1.
 Ibid., Box 1 Folder 18.
 Ibid., Box 2, Folder 2