Postcard views of Notre Dame


A vintage postcard from the 1915 era showing the quadrangle view from the Administration Building.

A vintage postcard from the 1915 era showing the quadrangle view from the Administration Building.

The following description of the of the Main Quadrangle is from the excellent book by Damaine Vonada entitled Notre Dame The Official Campus Guide. (Available in our Book section)

Locating Main Quad is easy, for it's the home of the revered Main Building, whose glorious Golden Dome and likeness of Our Lady can be seen all over campus. Determining Main Quad's place in the Notre Dame universe, however, is quite another matter. The quad long ago ceased to be the true geographic center of the university, but it will forever remain the psychological center, a place that exists largely in the hearts and minds of the Notre Dame family. This is both the university's historic district and its most hallowed ground, the site of the two structures-the Main Building and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart- that summarize its beliefs, its mission, its purpose, its heritage, and its spirit.

Father Sorin deliberately made the Main Building the focal point of his young university, and he also planned Notre Dame Avenue to be a tree-Iined boulevard that, like the grand entrance to Versailles, would visually as well as physically lead people to it. Then in the late 1800s, he crowned the Main Building with a gold-coated dome. Creating a Golden Dome at the height of the Gilded Age was a stroke of public relations genius, for it provided the university with an inspired symbol that has proved to be priceless. "Who but Notre Dame," architect Francis Kervick once asked in admiration, "would have dared to layout a mile-long, grand boulevard culminating with a dome of gold?"

While the Dome dramatically marks the Main Building as the heart of Notre Dame, the adjacent Basilica of the Sacred Heart steadfastly maintains its soul. Not only does the Basilica give Main Quad the nickname of "God Quad," but the quad's aged buildings, whose worn bricks have forever captured the character of the early, aspiring Notre Dame. For the university's founding fathers-Sorin, Dillon, Corby, Lemonnier, Morrissey, Walsh -Main Quad was Notre Dame, and to this day, you can almost feel them listening to the rhythms of the campus.

It was on Main Quad that Notre Dame first took shape as a university. All of the rest of the campus-every classroom building, laboratory, residence hall, statue, library, stadium, discovery, theory, art, and tradition--emanates from its venerable buildings. English professor Frank O'Malley once said that there is blood in these bricks. He was absolutely right, for the men and women who wrested a great university from the Indiana prairie were single-minded and totally willing to commit their lives to realize the idea as well as the ideals of Notre Dame. Theirs is a classic American success story -poverty, hardship, against-all-odds perseverance, and ultimate success beyond any expectation. Father Sorin and his followers were immigrants who started Notre Dame on a prayer and a shoestring, and Main Quad stands as the first concrete testament to that accomplishment.




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