World War I Memorial Door

On Memorial Day, May 30, 1924, University President Rev. Matthew Walsh dedicated the World War I Memorial at Notre Dame before saying a military field mass in front of it.  The memorial is an addition to the east transept of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart designed by Notre Dame architects Francis Kervick and Vincent Fagan.  The professors also designed Cushing Hall of Engineering, Howard Hall, Lyons Hall, Morrissey Hall, and South Dining Hall.

GNDL 28/29: Basilica of the Sacred Heart – Vincent Fagan artists' rendering of the World War I Memorial Door, c1923.
Vincent Fagan artist’s rendering of the World War I Memorial addition to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, c1923.

The cry for a memorial for Notre Dame’s contributions to the Great War began shortly after armistice in 1919.  The memorial initially was going to have inscribe all 2500 Notre Dame active students, alumni, and faculty members who served.  In that number were two future University Presidents who served as chaplains during WWI – Rev. Matthew Walsh and Rev. Charles O’Donnell.  In the end, the tablets only list the names of the 56 who sacrificed their lives in the war.

GHOP 1/08: Basilica of the Sacred Heart exterior World War I Memorial Door before the installation of the statues of St. Joan of Arc and St. Michael the Archangel, c1930s-1944. The statues were placed in 1944.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart exterior World War I Memorial door before the installation of the statues of St. Joan of Arc and St. Michael the Archangel, c1930s-1944.  The statues were placed in their nitches through the campus statue project in 1944.

The Notre Dame Service Club worked diligently to raise funds for the memorial through dances, Glee Club concerts, and general petitions in Scholastic.  Notre Dame formed a post of Veterans of Foreign Wars in January 1922, which then took up the efforts.  The VFW disbanded in 1923, as there would be few veteran students left on campus to keep the post going.  They had hoped to have the memorial complete by the end of their run, but it would still be another year before it would be finished.

A moulded Gothic arch in deep reveal frames a pair of oak doors with twisting iron hinges. Each door contains a tiny opening with a list of stained glass, one carrying the emblem of the Tudor Rose and the other a Poppy.  (Scholastic, May 1924, pages 232-233)

In January 1923, a special committee of Notre Dame’s VFW post approved Vincent Fagan’s design for the memorial to be a new side-entrance to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the idea favored by University President Walsh (see sketch above).  Scholastic noted that “[t]he design is beautiful and appropriate and will add charm to the campus as well as ‘hold the mind to moments of regret'” (Scholastic, March 24, 1923, page 677).

These [sic] is a splay on the outside of the doors and in the masonry of the arch to carry the names of the soldier dead.  The stone lintel above the door bears the inscription:  “In Glory Everlasting!”  Over the lintel is a carved panel with two strong eagles supporting a shield bearing the university seal and it is surmounted by the Chi and Rho of Christ’s monogram:  The eagles carry in their claws a ribbon which reads “God, Country, Notre Dame.” (Scholastic, May 1924, pages 232-233)
In the splayed sides about waist high are two projecting corbels on each side [the military figures].  Every Memorial Day these corbels will support the altar table for the military Field Mass offered up for the repose of the souls of those whose names are inscribed above.  Flanking the deepness of the door itself two buttresses rise, shaping themselves into niches with tracery toward the cap.  Over half way up they break back, leaving a supporting ledge for a statue of St. Joan of Arc and St. Michael, one on each buttress.  From these ledges there are raised shields bearing the fleur-de-lys and the sword, while high across the facade of the porch from buttress to buttress we read: “Our Gallant Dead.” (Scholastic, May 1924, pages 232-233)
When the memorial was finally dedicated on Memorial Day 1924, it wasn’t quite yet complete.  However, it would be finished in time for Commencement.  At the dedication, President Walsh remarked,

 The real purpose of a memorial, from the Catholic point of view, is to inspire a prayer for those we desire to remember.  It is very proper that this memorial should be a part of the Church of Notre Dame.

No one who knows Notre Dame need be told of the spirit of loyalty and faith that has animated this university from its beginning.  We should imitate our dead in that they have shown us the lesson of patriotism.  If only the people of America would follow their example there would be no discrimination because of race or creed.  When Washington said that religion and morality are the basis of patriotism he gave us the definition to every patriotic move at Notre Dame.

It is to the boys of the World War and to the men of the Civil War that this memorial is dedicated.  Let us ask God that this memorial will not only be beauty in stone, but also a reminder to pray for the men to whom it is dedicated.
(Notre Dame Daily, May 21, 1924, page 1)

Inside the doors is a small stone-lined vestibule leading into the church and lighted by two narrow lancets of leaded antique glass bearing medallions of warrior saints. The Memorial is the result of the faithful efforts of the Notre Dame Veterans of Foreign Wars and the cooperation of the university. Its design and construction have been in the hands of Messrs. Kervick and Fagan of the architectural department, and a new spot of interest is created in the northwest comer of the main quadrangle. (Scholastic, May 1924, pages 232-233)

For many years, the memorial door was the natural place to hold mass on Memorial Day and other military occasions.  With the changes made to altar placement with Vatican II and the academic year ending well before Memorial Day, this tradition has gone by the wayside.  The memorial remains an important corner of campus and the “God, Country, Notre Dame” inscription is often quoted today.

GNDS 5/11: Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart World War I (WWI) Memorial Door, 1925.
GNDS 5/11: Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart World War I (WWI) Memorial Door, 1925.Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart World War I Memorial Door, 1925.
GDIS 29/02: Memorial Day Ceremony held outside of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart's World War I Memorial Door, view from above, 1941/0530.
Memorial Day Ceremony held outside of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart’s World War I Memorial Door, view from above, 1941/0530.
GPUB 06/39: Three ROTC students, one member of each military branch (Navy, Air Force, Army), standing in front of the World War I Memorial Door of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, c1960s-1970s.
Three ROTC students, one member of each military branch (Navy, Air Force, Army), standing in front of the World War I Memorial door of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, c1960s-1970s.


Notre Dame Daily
GNDL 28/29
GHOP 1/08
GNDS 5/11
GDIS 29/02
GPUB 6/39

Lewis Hall

On August 10, 1965, Notre Dame dedicated its first dormitory built specifically for female students.  Lewis Hall was originally built as a residence for the religious women pursuing advanced degrees at Notre Dame, accommodating 143 nuns, all in private rooms.  It would later open to include female lay graduate students as the number of religious declined.  In 1975, Lewis was converted to a residence for undergraduate women and the single rooms were turned into doubles.

GPHR 45/4645: Architectural sketch of Lewis Hall exterior, c1962. Drawing by Ellerbe Architects. [copy negative]
Architectural sketch of Lewis Hall by Ellerbe Architects, c1962.
Holy Cross Sisters Mary Frances Jerome (MA in Greek Literature) and Mary Lucretia (MS in Chemistry) were the first two women to earn degrees at Notre Dame in 1917.  The formal establishment of the Summer School Program in 1918 and the Graduate School in 1932 brought thousands of women to Notre Dame from across the country.  Since most did not live locally, they did their coursework over the summer sessions, dragging out the time needed to complete their bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees.

GPHR 45/5148: Lewis Hall exteriors with female students (nuns), c1965. Image from the University of Notre Dame Archives. (University of Notre Dame Archives)
Lewis Hall exterior with female students, 1965.

On April 28, 1962, University President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh announced a million dollar donation from the Frank J. Lewis Foundation for the construction of a dormitory for these women to live on campus year-round and earn their degrees.  As such, they could earn a masters degree in 15 months rather than over five summer sessions.  Hesburgh said, “the new hall will accelerate the graduate training of the devoted women who constitute the heart of Catholic education in America” [Notre Dame Press Releases, April 1962].

GPHR 45/5148: A female student nun studying in her private room in Lewis Hall, 1965.
A female student studying in her private room in Lewis Hall, 1965.

Chicago business man Frank J. Lewis unfortunately had passed away in 1960 before he could see his foundation fund Lewis Hall.  Before they were married, his future wife Julia founded the Illinois Club for Catholic Women in 1919, which was “a home for young Catholic business women away from home and in modest circumstances.”  The couple was extremely active in philanthropic work throughout Chicago and “their outstanding contributions toward the development of Catholic higher education [was] so great as to have earned them the title of Godfather and Godmother to Loyola University, DePaul University, Lewis College at Lockport, Illinois, and others.”  Frank believed that “God gives a man money so that he will share it with others” [UDIS 99/15].

GPHR 45/5137: Lewis Hall Dedication, 1965/0810. Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, Mundelein College President Sister Mary Ann Ida Gannon, and Mrs. Julia Lewis.
Lewis Hall Dedication, 1965/0810. Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, Mundelein College President Sister Mary Ann Ida Gannon, and Mrs. Julia Lewis.

In a move to eventually make space for all women undergraduate students who chose to live on campus, Lewis Hall’s resident profile changed in the fall of 1975.  The graduate students were moved to Badin Hall for the year in the anticipation of the opening of the Grace O’Hara graduate student apartments in 1976.  The undergraduate women living in Badin Hall since opening to women in the fall of 1972 were moved to Lewis Hall in the interim.  Badin Hall returned to house undergraduate women after this one year shuffle.

GPHS 4/43: A group of Notre Dame female students (nuns) in a lounge in Lewis Hall, Fall 1967.
A group of Notre Dame female students in a Lewis Hall lounge, Fall 1967.

While the move initially upset students all around, Notre Dame saw it as the best option available to facilitate the graduate and ever-increasing undergraduate women, without further displacing the on-campus male students.

Even though graduate students are often overlooked on campus, Lewis Hall plays a very important role in the history of coeducation at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame:  A Magazine
, Fall 1965
Notre Dame Press Releases
UDIS 99/15
UDIS 256/22

Main Quad Cannons

On May 22, 1896, the United States Congress approved the Disposition of Condemned Cannon, Etc., which provided the Secretaries of War and of the Navy the authority “to loan, or give to soldiers’ monumental associations, posts of the Grand Army of the Republic, and municipal corporations, condemned ordnance, guns, and cannon balls which may not be needed in the service of either of said Departments” (Annual Reports of the War Department, 1903).  In December 1899, Notre Dame GAR Post 569 filed a petition with the Secretary of War to acquire two cannons for campus.

Commencement flag-raising ceremony on Main Quad with the two Civil War cannons, c1930. Hurley Hall is in the background.
Commencement flag-raising ceremony on Main Quad with the two Civil War cannons, c1930. Hurley Hall is in the background.

With the help of Indiana Representative Abraham Brick, Notre Dame requested a ten-inch Columbiad cannon from Fort Winthrop in Massachusetts and a ten-inch seacoast mortar from Fort Morgan in Alabama.  After about six months of back and forth, the Fort Morgan mortar became unavailable.  It is unclear if the deal fell through because getting the mortar to Notre Dame would be too expensive or if they simply took too long figuring out the logistics.  Consequently, the request was changed to an eight-inch seacoast howitzer from Fort McHenry in Maryland.

Statement of Guns, Howitzers, and Mortars on Hand at the Various Forts. F.H. Wurzer in the House of Representatives sent this list on 04/23/1900 to Brother Paul for him to pick out two cannons for Notre Dame.
Statement of Guns, Howitzers, and Mortars on Hand at the Various Forts. F.H. Wurzer in the House of Representatives sent this list on 04/23/1900 to Brother Paul for him to pick out two cannons for Notre Dame.

General William Olmstead of Notre Dame GAR Post 569 inquired about the history of the gun at Fort Winthrop.  Ordnance Sergeant Joseph R. Neaves responded that he didn’t think it had much of a history – it came to Fort Winthrop in the late 1850s or early 1860s and that it probably was never fired since it wasn’t mounted (UPEL 87/05).

The cannons arrived to Notre Dame sometime before September 22, 1900, when they are first mentioned in Scholastic.  The article recounts how football manager John Eggeman went looking for his billy goat during a storm, and “[a]fter a long search, John discovered the goat trying to eat one of the cannons down near the post-office.  Of course this was a bluff on the part of the goat” [Scholastic, 09/22/1900, page 59].

George T. Hanlon laying on a cannon on Main Quad, c1910s.
George T. Hanlon laying on a cannon on Main Quad, c1910s.

The cannons were located next to the flag pole, which then was just west of Hurley Hall.  While they were a prominent part of the landscape, they didn’t garner much attention in the student publications.  Due to their location, they stood as sentinels during flag-raising ceremonies.  In later years, it became tradition for the graduating head cheerleader to lead one last college yell from atop one of the cannons during the flag-raising ceremony at Commencement.

Commencement - Graduating head cheerleader Al Perrine leads the traditional last yell from atop one of the cannons as the class flag is raised on Main Quad while clergy, faculty, and students are gathered around, 1941/0601.
Commencement – Graduating head cheerleader Al Perrine leads the traditional last yell from atop one of the cannons as the class flag is raised on Main Quad while clergy, faculty, and students are gathered around, 1941/0601.

In 1942, Notre Dame donated the cannons to a scrap drive to support the war effort of World War II, thus returning them back to the United States military and putting them back to work for a new war.

Scholastic issue October 16, 1942, page 11: Articles featuring the Notre Dame donation of the Civil War cannons to the St. Joseph County scrap drive during World War II (WWII); Mr. George McDonald of the United Steel Workers of America speaks to the Law School; and Professor Eugene Kormendi designing a new statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Scholastic issue October 16, 1942, page 11: Article featuring the Notre Dame donation of the Civil War cannons to the St. Joseph County scrap drive during World War II (WWII)


UPEL 79/03
UPEL 87/04-12
GNDL 8/01
GNDS 9/15
GDIS 46/03

Annual Reports of the War Department, 1903 (

The Great Fire of 1879

Wednesday, April 23, 1879, started out as any other spring day at Notre Dame.  Taking advantage of the warm day, the Minims were out on their play yard.  Around 10:00am, they were the first to notice the smoke rising from the Main Building and sounded the alarm — “College on fire!”  Notification was sent to South Bend and a fire engine was dispatched to Notre Dame, but it arrived too late to save five of the campus buildings that were quickly consumed.  Despite several devastating fires in her past, Notre Dame was ill-prepared for such a large fire.  Even though the Main Building was equipped with water tanks, they proved futile on this fateful day.

Feature of the Second Main Building fire published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, May 24, 1879
Feature of the Second Main Building fire published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, May 24, 1879.  This image contains couple of inaccuracies:  The first Sacred Heart Church was replaced by the current Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which was blessed on August 15, 1875.  Also, the winds from the west would have blown the fire in the other direction. The editors of Scholastic noticed the error as well. In the 05/24/1879 issue, page 579, they noted: “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper of May 24 contains a well-written notice of the burning of Notre Dame, accompanied by a striking illustration. How the engraver succeeded in uniting the old Church, and the surroundings of twenty years since, with the lately destroyed College building, and yet produced so satisfactory a picture we can hardly understand. It is a case in which the imagination of the artist has happily supplied the absence of actual knowledge. We understand that the engraved plate has been sent for.”

The origins of the fire are uncertain, but many theories point to construction work being done on the pitch roof of Main Building.  As soon as the fire was discovered, students, faculty, and local townspeople scrambled to form a long bucket brigade up the six floors of the building.  Many others desperately tried to save the precious library books, museum artifacts, scientific instruments, furniture, and personal effects.  They carried many items carefully out of the buildings.  However, in the chaos, some people frantically flung things out of the windows, destroying them from the fall in an attempt to save them.  Once the wooden supports of the dome gave way, sending the one ton Mary statue plummeting through the center of the building, all chances for further recovery were abandoned.  The western winds spread the fire from Main Building, additionally destroying the infirmary, St. Francis Old Men’s Home, Music Hall, and the Minims’ Hall.  Fortunately, Sacred Heart Church (designated a Basilica in 1992) and Luigi Gregori’s murals were spared, as were the Presbytery, the printing presses (home of Ave Maria and Scholastic in what is now Brownson Hall), the kitchens, the steam house, and the first Washington Hall (the current one was dedicated in 1882).

The fire raged for only a few hours and was relatively under control by evening.   The South Bend fire engine remained on watch for any flare-ups.  Miraculously, there were no fatalities and only a few injuries – student PJ Dougherty either jumped or fell from the third story and recovered quickly in a few days.  Others narrowly escaped falling debris that could have been deadly.  Main Quad was strewn with items that were salvaged from the burning buildings.  In all, there was over $200,000 worth of damage, including 25,000 books, 17 pianos and other musical instruments, many valuable scientific specimens, and irreplaceable historical artifacts.  Insurance only covered about $45,000.

[photoshelter-img i_id=”I0000mB2wWapbs1A” buy=”1″ caption=”Engraving of campus with the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and Second Main Building before the fire, c1870s” width=”600″ height=”432″]

At 3:00pm, the administration and faculty convened to map out a game-plan for the immediate future of Notre Dame.  They decided that the school year should terminate early.  They began making arrangements to send the grief-stricken students home and confer degrees early, but no one believed this was the end for Notre Dame.  University President Rev. William Corby decided immediately that the University would rebuild and would be ready to accept students at the normal opening day in September.  Scholastic writers echoed, “we feel that there is no reason to give way to discouragement.  No, we cannot bring ourselves to believe that the sun of Notre Dame has set.  Let the thousands of loving children whom she has sent into the world within the past quarter of a century — let the devoted friends whom she counts in all parts of the country but rally to her relief, and we have every reason to feel confident that the good work which she has been doing in the past will be continued in the not distant future” [Scholastic, April 26, 1879 issue, page 536].

A series of stereoscope views of the Second Main Building and the April 23, 1879, fire aftermath. Photos by James Bonney.
A series of stereoscope views of the Second Main Building and the April 23, 1879, fire aftermath.
Photos by James Bonney.

Rev. Edward Sorin, founder of the University, was in Montreal at the time of the fire, about to embark on his 36th transatlantic voyage.  A telegram was dispatched to intercept him, although some feared the physical effects of an aging Sorin receiving the news.  Professor James Edwards left South Bend for Montreal to tell the Superior General his first-hand account in person.  Both of them returned to Notre Dame on Sunday, April 27th.  That Sunday morning, thousands of students, faculty, and townspeople packed the Basilica of the Sacred Heart as Sorin preached “Lessons of the Fire,” in which he told them “If it were all gone, I should not give up.”  Professor Timothy Howard recalled many years later that they were “the most sublime words I have ever listened to” (X-4-e, April 14, 1906).

What might have led other American institutions at the time to fold seemed to only embolden the Notre Dame spirit:  “Yes, Notre Dame will be herself again in a few months with God’s help, the untiring toil of her children, and the aid of her generous friends who have never failed her in her hour of need. … Notre Dame has so grown into the life of the country that it cannot but live and flourish, notwithstanding the fire.  Like a vigorous tree which has been burned to the ground, the life is still strong in the great heart beneath, and it will spring from its ashes more glorious and beautiful than ever.” [Scholastic, April 26, 1879 issue, page 534].

Once he returned to campus and surveyed the damage, Fr. Sorin seemed to spring back to his youth, determined more than ever to rebuild Notre Dame into a grander university.  There was much work to be done and everyone pitched in as they could.  Scholastic noted that Sorin could “wheel off a load of bricks with great grace and dignity” [May 10, 1879 issue, page 546].  Three weeks after the fire, the debris pile still smoldered and smoked.  Visitors from all over came to see the ruins for themselves.

Engraving of Notre Dame campus destroyed by fire, accompanying a letter by Rev. Edward Sorin soliciting donations in France to rebuild Notre Dame after the fire, c1879-1880. Engraving by Fernique published in "Annales de Saint-Joseph," published at the College de Sainte-Croix, Neuilly, France.
View of Notre Dame campus destroyed by fire, accompanying a letter by Rev. Edward Sorin soliciting donations in France to rebuild Notre Dame after the fire, c1879-1880.
Engraving by Fernique published in “Annales de Saint-Joseph” of the College de Sainte-Croix, Neuilly, France.

News of the tragedy quickly spread across the country and into Europe.  Letters and telegrams of support and promises of financial aid poured in.  Notre Dame administrators, faculty, alumni, and benefactors immediately hit the bricks in raising funds to rebuild.  Fortunately, their strong networks helped to make the rebuilding of Notre Dame a quick reality.  Rev. John Zahm solicited specimens for his Museum of Natural History.  James Edwards solicited books for the Lemonnier Library.  Sorin solicited funds across the country and in Europe.

On May 4, 1879, Fr. Sorin blessed the cornerstone for the new Main Building, even though official architectural plans were still under consideration.  By mid-May Chicago architect Willoughby Edbrooke was hired out of many architects who submitted their work in the nationwide competition.  Hundreds of laborers descended on campus and construction worked at a fast pace.  More than 4,300,000 bricks, mostly made from the marl in the lakes, needed to be laid by September.  Sorin figured construction cost $1000-1500 a day and the lack of insurance already put them far behind.  However, Sorin’s complete faith in Divine Providence never faltered.  He noted to Sister Columba, “our catastrophe, so sudden and so unexpected and so terrible, has been seen as a loss to the whole country, and the American people have marvelously helped us to reverse it” [quoted in O’Connell, page 656].

[photoshelter-img i_id=”I0000abLeGWAmA2c” buy=”1″ caption=”The New Notre Dame – Engraving of Main Building exterior, 1879.” width=”600″ height=”478″]

The core of Main Building was complete for the opening school term in September 1879.  Four months earlier, Notre Dame was regarded as one of the largest and one of the best educational institutions in America, particularly in the West.  The tragic fire helped bring more national attention to Notre Dame.  The physical edifices of the “New Notre Dame” indeed were larger, more ornate, and more modern than their predecessors.  Main Building and her Golden Dome stand today as a testament to the dreams, ambition, determination, hard work, and faith of our forefathers to build one of the greatest universities in the world.

Exterior view of Main Building III under construction, without the Dome and with rolls of sod, c1879.
Exterior view of Main Building III under construction, without the Dome and with rolls of sod, c1879.


A Dome of Learning 
by Thomas Schlereth
Edward Sorin by Marvin O’Connell
PNDP 10-AD-02
GFCL 48/17
GNDL 3/52
GNDL 6/16
UNDR 3/06
GTJS 8/02

Consecration of Notre Dame

On the Feast of Corpus Christi, May 31, 1866, the University of Notre Dame was officially consecrated and the statue of the Virgin Mary atop the dome was dedicated.  The newspapers at the time claimed that “the ceremony will eclipse everything of the kind which has ever taken place in the United States” [New York Herald, 05/20/1866, page 5].

Second Main Building - Dedication of Statue of Mary, 1866/0531
Second Main Building – Dedication of Statue of Mary, 1866/0531

The cornerstone of the first Main Building was laid in August of 1843.  Twenty years later, Notre Dame had out-grown the building and University President Rev. Patrick Dillon set about expanding it, following the vision for rapid growth that Rev. Edward Sorin initiated.  Construction on the expansion started in 1865 and it would be occupied by that fall, although the edifice wouldn’t be fully complete until the fall of 1866.

The dome of Second Main Building was made of wood and covered in tin.  Anthony Buscher of Chicago carved the wooden statue, which was twelve feet tall, weighed 1800 pounds, and cost $850.  The dome and statue were painted white, representing the purity of the Virgin Mary.  In the octagonal oratory at the base of the dome was a $1500 solid gold crown made in France and blessed by Pope Pius IX.  Etched into the crown were the names of the donors and the mysteries of the Rosary.

Detail of the Second Main Building dome, c1866-1879
Detail of the Second Main Building dome, c1866-1879

Ever the marketeer, Rev. Edward Sorin invited “every bishop in the country and every important cleric and congressman in the Midwest” to the dedication ceremonies [Schlereth, page 5].  Twelve bishops and archbishops made the trip to Notre Dame, including Revs. Martin Spalding of Baltimore, John Luers of Fort Wayne, Louis Amadeus Rappe of Cleveland, John Timon of Buffalo, John Henni of Milwaukee, and Thomas Grace of St. Paul.  Over five thousand people visited campus for the event, more than could be accommodated for Mass or the grand banquet.

[photoshelter-img i_id=”I0000kZ_Noxi8J4c” buy=”1″ caption=”Engraving of campus, including the first Sacred Heart Church and Second Main Building, c1866.” width=”570″ height=”305″]

Part of the day’s festivities included prizes of $100 in gold for the best prose and poetic essays regarding the Virgin Mary.  The writing were judged solely on merit, with the judges not knowing the names of the authors.  Orestes Brownson and Louis Constantine (an assumed pen-name) took top prize for their prose.  Professor George B. Males of St. Mary’s College, Maryland, and Mrs. Anna H. Dorsey of Washington, D.C., won for their poetic essays.  The day ended with Vespers and a Eucharistic procession around St. Joseph’s Lake with all the pomp and circumstance that typified such celebrations at Notre Dame.

The growing nationwide enthusiasm and support for Notre Dame seen on this day in 1866 would help to sustain the University through one of its greatest setbacks – the fire of April 23, 1879, which would destroy this and many other buildings on campus.


PNDP 10-AD-04
PNDP 1866
GFCL 48/15-16
GNDL 6/16

A Dome of Learning: The University of Notre Dame’s Main Building
by Thomas J. Schlereth, 1991

The Lilacs

On the corner of Notre Dame Avenue and Napoleon Boulevard stands an old yellow-bricked house.  Located at 1136 N. Notre Dame Avenue, the house was built for Notre Dame professor of English Maurice Francis Egan.  Egan was the first lay professor with a wife and children and the house was a necessity.  Egan’s friends from far and wide sent him numerous lilac bushes and the house was christened “The Lilacs.”

“The Lilacs” – Home of Professor Maurice Francis Egan at 1136 N. Notre Dame Avenue, c1890s

As a prominent writer, Egan was embraced into the South Bend social scene.  The Lilacs was the site of numerous luncheons, dinner parties, and student organization meetings.  Many visitors to Notre Dame also stayed overnight at the Lilacs.

After Egan left Notre Dame for Catholic University, Professor Charles Petersen lived in the house.  After his death in 1913, a number of faculty members and post-graduate students occupied the house.  In the fall of 1915, seventeen students lived in the house, and this tradition continued for several years until more student dormitories were built on-campus.

A group of students living at The Lilacs, 1915-1916

While the number of residents was small, the student publications Scholastic and Dome yearbook often mentioned the Lilacs (below is a tongue-in-check listing of the rules of the Lilacs).  The Lilac students may have been seen as the privileged few.  Since the house was situated a distance from the heart of campus, its residents had more quite setting for studying and a bit more freedom to go into town.  The house was also on the Hill Street streetcar route, so most students would have been aware of its existence.

Directory and Rules of “The Lilacs,” from the wit and humor section of the 1915 Dome yearbook

After the students left the Lilacs for on-campus housing, faculty members continued to live in the house for many years.  The Lilacs still stands today, but is now a private residence.


Notre Dame: One Hundred Years
by Rev. Arthur J. Hope, CSC
The University of Notre Dame: A Portrait of Its History & Campus by Thomas Schlereth

Senior Bar

The first Senior Bar building has an unlikely history.  The house was built in 1916 as a private residence and was known as the McNamara House.  In 1951 the house was converted into a home for men in formation to the Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross and renamed André House after now Saint Brother André Bessette, CSC.

André House facing Eddy Street, March 1951.
This space is now occupied by the current Legends Restaurant

André House served as a home for the brothers for about a decade.  It was then used as a Faculty Club in the 1960s.  At this same time, the Senior Class would designate a local, off-campus watering-hole as “Senior Bar.”  The location changed yearly and students worked with local establishments to have a private club for Notre Dame seniors and their dates over the age of 21 who purchased membership.

The opportunity for students to move Senior Bar to campus came when the University Club opened in 1968 along Notre Dame Avenue (razed in 2008) and André House was once again vacant.  In January 1969, the Alumni Association took over the old house and opened Alumni Club.  Of-age seniors could gain membership and “senior class managers handled the day-to-day operations of the club” [Scholastic, 12/05/1975, page 18].  Alumni Club could accommodate several hundred people and offered bars, pool tables, and dancing areas.

Students outside of Alumni-Senior Club, c1970s

Students dominated Alumni Club and the Alumni Association backed out of the venture in 1974.  After much negotiation, the club moved under the auspices of the Office of Student Affairs and changed the name to Alumni-Senior Club.  Ever since 1969, the popularity and financial stability of Alumni-Senior Club ebbed and waned.  The 1916 building became cost prohibitive to physically maintain.  In 1982, a new Senior Bar was built on the same location as the old house.  The new building, designed with input from students, offered three times as much space as the old building.  It included three bars, two dance floors, and a game room with pool tables and video games.


Senior Bar (Alumni-Senior Club) exterior, March 1999

In 2003, Senior Bar was transformed into Legends Restaurant and the lifetime memberships held by alumni were no longer valid.  One side of Legends houses a restaurant open to the public.  The club side is generally used for private parties or student-only events.



PNDP 10-An
PNDP 30-Al-02
GPHR 45/1366
GSCO 3/93

William J. Burke Golf Course

In the Fall of 1929, the William J. Burke Memorial Golf Course in the southwest corner of campus opened for use of Notre Dame students, faculty, clergy, and friends of the University.  The course was donated by Notre Dame Trustee William J. Burke, President of the Vulcan Last Corporation of Portsmouth, Ohio.  Vulcan was involved in a wide variety of industries and its divisions included the Vulcan Golf Company and the Vulcan Aircraft Company.  Burke never played the course – he died suddenly of a heart attack in July 1928.

Aerial view of campus with the Burke Golf Course in the foreground, c1933. Construction of the golf course required the permanent closure of public access to Dorr Road, which ran east to west through South Quad.

Interest in the game began to grow around the turn of the 20th century.  In 1901, a course was created on the north side of St. Mary’s Lake [Scholastic, 05/04/1901, page 522].  In the 1910s, students were known to play on the quad in front of Badin and Bond Halls.  Otherwise, students had to venture off-campus to courses in South Bend.  As with other sports such as baseball, the students organized golf clubs.  The number of interested students continued to grow, which propelled the team to varsity minor sport status in 1923.

Male students playing golf on the Burke Memorial Golf Course with South Dining Hall in the background, c1930s

The 18-hole course was first shortened to accommodate the building of the Rockne Memorial in 1939.  More land was taken in the 1950s for the construction of Pangborn and Fisher Halls.  In 1995, the back nine was sacrificed for the construction of the West Quad dorms – O’Neill, Keough, McGlinn, and Welsh Family Halls.  These new halls became necessary for the displaced male students of Grace and Flanner Halls when they were converted from residential halls to office space.  The women of Siegfried and Knott Halls were moved to McGlinn and Welsh Family to balance the gender mix on West Quad.

Burke Memorial Golf Course – View of the first hole sign post with construction equipment in the background, 1995



PNDP 30-Go-04
UPCO 9/101-106
GNDL 6/21
GBBY 45G/0559
GSCO 1/63

Memorial Library Topping Out

On April 3, 1962, the last steel girder for the Memorial Library (now Hesburgh Library) was put into place.  As part of the “topping out” ceremony, University President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, inscribed the final beam, which was hoisted to the top with an American flag.

Memorial Library “Topping Out” Ceremony, 1962/0403. Rev. Theodore Hesburgh signing the final beam with the Latin phrase for “May the Blessed Mother bless us with her wonderful child.”  At left is Pat Corrie, construction superintendent.

By the 1950s, it was obvious that Notre Dame was outgrowing its library space in Lemonnier Library (now Bond Hall), which opened in 1917.  The Administration contemplated several sites for a new library, including on Main Quad as a replacement of Main Building.  Fortunately, it was decided that the new library would occupy the quad north of Notre Dame Stadium.  This required the removal of the Navy Drill Hall and the Vetville buildings, which began in the summer of 1961.

Memorial Library “Topping Out” Ceremony, 1962/0403 An American flag waves at the top of the steel frame of the building

The Memorial Library, renamed Hesburgh Library in 1987, was open for use in the fall of 1963, although the installation of the “Word of Life” mural was not yet complete.  The library was officially dedicated in May 1964.

GPHR 45/4464

Sorin Hall Porch

“It was not like that in the olden days, in the days beyond recall,
When everybody got ducked that lived in Sorin Hall.”
Dome yearbook]

In the latter part of the 19th century, enrollment at Notre Dame continued to swell.  Sorin Hall was built in 1889 and expanded in 1897 to accommodate the collegiate students whose population was outgrowing the living space in Main Building.  Sorin Hall was Notre Dame’s first dormitory building to offer private quarters, and a certain level of freedom, for the collegiate students.  However, Sorin’s famous porch was not added until 1905.  The need for the porch went beyond pure architectural aesthetics.  It was built as a deterrent of student pranks.

Sorin Hall exterior, c1890s

Pranks are inevitable in a close-knit setting among college students.  In the early 1900s, students would amuse themselves by throwing water out of upper-level windows of Sorin Hall, much to the chagrin of passers-by entering the dorm.  The final straw was when the beloved “Colonel” William Hoynes, dean of the Law School and Sorin Hall professor-in-residence, supposedly fell victim to this popular prank.  Immediately thereafter, construction of a porch began on the eastern facade of Sorin Hall to protect visitors from an unexpected deluge of water.  The porch was completed in April 1905.

Sorin Hall residents posed on the front steps of Sorin Hall, c1890s. “Colonel” William Hoynes is in the center with a top hat.

The water pranks did not completely cease with this addition, as students could crawl out on top of the flat-roofed porch.  However, the pranksters had to be slier as they were more exposed to getting caught.  Stories of the Hoynes incident lived on in the inaugural 1906 Dome yearbook and for a few years there after.  As a happy accident, this stately porch has become a significant part of Sorin Hall’s identity as a place to gather and as a stage for concerts, speeches, and the annual talent show.  Even Colonel Hoynes himself, who had a flare for the theatrical, often entertained alumni and visitors on the very porch that might not exist if it weren’t for a fateful prank.

Sorin Hall exterior with an American flag and blue banner on the porch that reads “God, Country, Notre Dame,” August 2002


CNDS 14/29:  Sorin Hall histories by Philip Hicks, 1979-1980
Dome yearbooks 1906-1907
GGPP 2/16
GGPP 2/11
GMDG 7/21