Postcard views of Notre Dame

The Clarke Memorial Fountain

The Clarke Memorial Fountain


               A Road Of France

All day the carts go by along the road
That bear a regal though sorry load.
Young pine trees, stripped of all except their crown
Which in trodden dust is trailing down.
Young kings, that knew the mountains and the stars,
Dragged captive at the chariot wheels of Mars.
Alas, I think, while gazing upon these--
If this were but a sacrifice of trees!

                Charles L. O'Donnell
                Notre Dame President, 1928-1934

 

Photo Credit David C. Berta 219-232-5420

The description of The Clarke Memorial Fountain is from Damaine Vonada's wonderful guide book Notre Dame The Official Campus Guide (available in the "Books" section)

From The Notre Dame Campus Guide:

A survey published in a recent edition of The Dome revealed that 68 percent of Notre Dame's senior class had run through the waters of Clarke Memorial Fountain at least one time. Certainly an even larger percentage has gravitated here to study, socialize, and even dance in the shadow of this campus landmark. Perhaps the lure of the fountain lies in the hauntingly timeless appeal of its mammoth form, which noted New York architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee (Notre Dame class of 1956) purposely designed to mimic the mystical, monolithic monuments built in Britain during the Bronze Age. Not surprisingly, its nickname is Stonehenge.

Clarke Memorial Fountain consists of four limestone arches formed by 10-foot-long slabs that are supported by twin columns five feet square and 20 feet high. The arches each contain a fountain and rise from an underlying black granite pool that has a huge granite sphere at its center. Quarried in southern Indiana, the
elephantine columns weigh 20 tons apiece and had to be trucked to Notre Dame over a designated route with permission from state officials;

Although some have denounced the fountain as a war memorial, it was actually intended as a peace monument commemorating some 500 Notre Dame alumni who died in World War II, the Korean conflict, and Vietnam. The names of those wars are carved in three of its arches, and the fourth arch bears the Latin inscription Pro Patria et Pace, "For Country and Peace." The granite sphere represents the earth; the water is symbolic of life; and the stone columns, of course, were crafted by the hand of God.

Dedicated in 1986, the fountain was underwritten by Notre Dame alumnus Thomas Shuff of Lake Forest, Illinois, and by its principal benefactor, Maude Clarke of Chicago. Mrs. Clarke's donation was made in memory of her husband John, an investment banker who once served on the business college's advisory council. Both of the Clarkes had also been Army officers in World War II.

The Fountain is the centerpiece of Fieldhouse Mall, a lovely park-like area with benches and formal gardens that graces the southern end of the quad. The mall not only serves as a crossway between the Hesburgh Library and the Main Quad, but is also a popular place for festivals, social activities, marching band rehearsals, and the innumerable snowmen that students build during the long Indiana winters. The site was created when the Old Fieldhouse was torn down in 1983, and consistent with Notre Dame's steadfast sense of tradition, there now stands a buff brick monument to that long-gone gymnasium. Look for it just west of the Clarke Memorial Fountain, and you'll discover that it contains the Old Fieldhouse's original "April 1898" cornerstone.

North Quad's Great Views and Spendid Sights:

Of the Hesburgh Memorial Library: Stand just west of the Clarke Memorial Fountain and look east directly toward the Hesburgh Library behind it, and you'll see that the outline of the Library actually echoes the ancient shape of "Stonehenge." The result: architectural double vision in the curious sight of a monolith standing in front of a monolith.

 

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