Postcard views of Notre Dame

 

The Rockne Memorial Building, dedicated to the memory of Coach Rockne.

 

The following description of the Rockne Memorial Building is from the superb guide book, Notre Dame, the Official Campus Guide, by Damaine Vonada. It's available in the book section at:  http://www.irishlegends.com/Pages/guidebk.html

 

Looking at it from the South Quad mall, you’d never guess that this beautifully proportioned brick building is an athletic facility. With its handsome arched loggia and august Gothic entrance, it looks more like a bastion of the liberal

arts, and when this arresting edifice was constructed in 1938, it was actually considered not only quite large but also quite lavish for a college athletic building. This, however, was no ordinary athletic hall but a monument to Knute Rockne, the larger-than-life football coach whose incredible victories had captured the nation's imagination and made Notre Dame a household word in the 1920s. Grandeur, quite simply; was a requirement.

Coach Rockne also served as Notre Dame's athletic director, and apparently one of his ambitions was to build a campus field house that would be available to the entire student body. After his untimely death in 1931, the university decided to fulfill that goal by building a first-rate intramural facility in honor of the great coach. The memorial's placement at the far edge of South Quad would have truly pleased Rockne. Its excellent aesthetics provide a powerful focal point for the quad, but even more importantly, the building is located near the dormitories wherein lived the erstwhile undergraduates who had personally known him as ''Rock.'' Certainly it's a real measure of the strength of Rockne’s legacy that even today – several generations removed from his razzle-dazzle heyday – Notre Dame students like to call his memorial "the Rock."

Its architects were J. Maurice Carroll, class of 1919, and Chester E. Dean of Kansas City. Carroll had been a student during Rockne's first seasons as head football coach, and the memorial he helped design fosters athletics with excellent facilities-including a swimming pool; basketball, racquetball, and handball courts; and dance and aerobics rooms -as well as sophisticated symbolism. Large bas-relief figures representing various sports adorn the exterior walls, and over the entrances are the seals of the United States, Norway, France, and the U.S. military and naval academies. Norway and France were the birth - places of Rockne and the Congregation of Holy Cross, while the United States became the land where both the coach and the order triumphed. West Point and Annapolis, of course, are two long-standing football rivals of the Fighting Irish.

At the memorial's main entrance, look for the two stone plaques that pay tribute to Robert Cavalier, the Sieur de La Salle, and Leopold Pokagon, chief of the Potawatomi Indians who lived in the South Bend area when Notre Dame was founded. La Salle was the great seventeenth- century French explorer who claimed much of North America for his king; Pokagon was the devout Catholic whose sincere faith convinced Father Badin to bring his ministry to northern Indiana. Above the front doors stands a statue of St. Christopher. According to legend, Christopher was a giant who carried the Christ Child over the river of death. The Child was carrying the weight of the world in his hands, and thus Christopher's extraordinary feat of strength makes his image just right for an athletic hall.

Although the facilities of the Rockne Memorial are not available for use by the general public, you will want to step inside the building’s foyer to view the vintage football trophies and memorabilia displayed there. Overlooking all these relics is a handsome bronze bust of Knute Rockne. Notice that the coach’s nose is very shiny. That’s because of one of the student’s favorite pr-exam traditions: rubbing Rockne’s nose for luck.

 

 

 

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