description of the Main Quadrangle is from the superb guide
book, Notre Dame, the Official Campus Guide, by Damaine Vonada.
It's available in the book section at:
The Main Quadrangle
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
allover 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-lined 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 cross atop
its spire is also the highest point -230 feet - on campus.
Thus it provides very visible evidence of the lofty position
that religion has always occupied at Notre Dame.
>"God Quad" does indeed have a reverent quality. It is a
sublime space: peaceful, serene, and well-ordered with
symmetrically placed buildings hemming the east and west
sides. At its center, a wonderful arboretum balances the works
of man with the work of nature to make Main Quad seem like a
sanctuary. You almost want to whisper here, but you don't,
mostly because this quad is such a surprisingly musical place.
Its sounds are many and filled with the joy of youth and the
warmth of tradition - the noble bells of the Basilica tolling
the hours; beloved hymns ascending from early Sunday mass; a
clear, sweet soprano practicing in Crowley Hall; band members
proudly trumpeting the "Victory March" beneath the Golden
Dome; show tunes and tap shoes resounding in Washington Hall;
restless rock songs blaring from open dormitory windows. The
music echoes from and around 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.