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York couple obliges tradition by reopening 'Marryin' Door'

Freddy and Pam Schronce stand Thursday in the parlor of their home at 3 W. Madison St. in York, the former home of E. Gettys Nunn, the probate judge who married Schronce's parents and grandparents. Freddy Schronce, a notary public, will officiate his cousin's wedding there today.
Freddy and Pam Schronce stand Thursday in the parlor of their home at 3 W. Madison St. in York, the former home of E. Gettys Nunn, the probate judge who married Schronce's parents and grandparents. Freddy Schronce, a notary public, will officiate his cousin's wedding there today.

A few years ago, Freddy Schronce and his soon-to-be-wife, Pam, found a house in York they adored. No. 3 W. Madison St., with a curious extra door that led into the front parlor from the front steps.

His mother, Azalee, came up from Louisiana to visit. Like mommas since the beginning of time, momma wanted to see the place.

"We are coming down Congress Street, and my mother says, 'Your father and me got married in York, a long time ago.'"

Azalee and Larry Schronce, like thousands of people from north of the state line, came to York to get married because there was no waiting period like in North Carolina and in other states. Only Dillon County, along Interstate 95, the main route between New York and Florida and close to military bases, has married more people in South Carolina than York's 350,000-plus couples.

Freddy drove onto Madison Street, and his mother pointed and said, "That house right there. We got married right there in the parlor."

Freddy pulled into the driveway and said, "Momma, this is the house I just bought."

That curious door into the parlor was the "Marryin' Door," where all those couples walked into the home of the Marryin' Judge, E. Gettys Nunn.

The late judge Nunn, who took office in 1930, and his son, the late Charles Nunn, who followed him as probate judge until 1979, married more than 100,000 couples in the courthouse and their homes on Madison Street and Smith Street.

"My sister got married in the same room a few days later," said Schronce's father, the Rev. Larry Schronce, who has married hundreds of people since.

Larry Schronce is 68 years old. York and the Nunns go back further than his own marriage in that house 50 years ago November.

"Judge Nunn married my father and mother, too," Larry Schronce said.

Pam and Freddy Schronce's house, built in 1946, is on York's historic registry because so many people got married there. In the years since moving in, too many couples to count have pulled up at the curb and taken pictures. Bolder ones knock on the Marryin' Door. The truly brash ask if their children or grandchildren can get married in the parlor because they did.

"Like a fairy tale, my house," said Pam Schronce.

Not long ago, Freddy's cousin from up in Lincoln County, N.C., asked if her daughter, Jennifer Sharpe, could get married at Freddy's house to a man named Joseph Beckham.

"My grandfather on the other side, Harvey Sharpe, was married in that house," Jennifer Sharpe said. "And Joseph's parents, William and Betty Ann Beckham, were married by Judge Nunn right there in that same room."

The wedding is today. Jennifer Sharpe hoped her cousin, Larry Schronce the preacher, could marry her. But he can't get here from Louisiana.

In South Carolina, a notary public can marry couples. The Nunn marriage business was so brisk for years that Charles Nunn's daughter, Nita, became a notary to help out with all those nuptials.

Sharpe's answer was standing in that same parlor.

"I'm a notary," Freddy Schronce told his cousin. "I've never done it before, but legally, I can marry you and Joseph."

And so at 11 a.m. today, by Sharpe's count, at least five couples or friends who were married at the Marryin' House will attend the wedding.

In November, Larry and Azalee Schronce will drive to York to renew their vows after 50 years of marriage. You already know where they will say "I do."

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