Postcard views of Notre Dame
The description below is from Damaine Vonada's superb guide book Notre Dame The Official Campus Guide (Available in the Book section). This year "Manorites" the world over are celebrating the 75th anniversary of their halls' dedication.
Morrissey Hall was Kervick's and Fagan's baby, both the centerpiece and the piece de resistance of their pet courtyard. It was the largest, costliest (a considerable $725,000 in 1925), and most lavishly detailed of their collegiate Gothic trio. Morrissey has come to be known as "the Manor," an appropriate sobriquet obviously inspired by its tall, castle-Iike entrance tower. With its carved lintels and decorative ogees, the dormitory lords over the heart of the courtyard with an authoritative air worthy of the abode of some feudal chatelain. Some call the dormitory's architecture inspiring. Others find it forbidding.
Just above and to the left of the hall's main entrance, you'll notice a statue mounted in a masonry niche. The X-shaped cross on the front of the niche tells that the statue represents the crucified apostle St. Andrew, the patron saint of the hall's namesake, Rev. Andrew Morrissey, C.S.C. Born in Ireland, Morrissey came to the United States as a youth and received his education at Notre Dame. He was serving as the university's Director of Studies when he was unexpectedly propelled into the presidency by the deathbed request of his young predecessor, Rev. Thomas Walsh. Shortly after Morrissey took office in 1893, Father Sorin also died, making him the first Notre Dame president completely ftee of its founder's formidable presence. Morrissey's twelve years in office, however, proved to be a holding pattern rather than the launching pad for a new era at the university. Although the world at large was progressing into the twentieth century, he was determined to keep Notre Dame both debt free and tied to its past. A kind and genial man, the portly Morrissey clucked over the minims like a mother hen, busying himself checking their ears and tracking down packages sent by their mothers. He wanted Notre Dame to remain a "compact, tidy little boarding school" and waged an ongoing tug-of-war with Rev. John Zahm, the Holy Cross provincial who believed that the university had a far more important destiny. After Morrissey's presidential term ended and he took over as provincial in 1905, Zahrn departed Notre Dame for good.
Ironically, the hall that bears Morrissey's name was one of the first buildings to herald Notre Dame's growth into the "intellectual center" that Zahm had always advocated. On the site where the university had once had a rude barn, this aspiring Gothic edifice was erected in 1925. Its west wing displayed an outdoor pulpit reminiscent of European cathedrals, and the richly appointed entrance hall had the look of a gentleman's club with fine wood paneling and a fireplace. For academic inspiration, the dorm was also outfitted with a painting of a student pouring over a book and the shields of the wotld's great universities.
Morrissey Hall is now in its eighth decade as a dormitory, and the men of the manor no longer spend their evenings lingering by the fire in neckties and suit coats. Instead, they have turned Morrissey into one of the most active-and charitable-dorms on campus. Combining fun and philanthropy, the "Manorites" annually sponsor both a Polar Run (in their underwear) to raise scholarship money and a student film festival that benefits an outreach center. They always have breakfast outdoors on the morning of the first football game, and following their traditional Christmas SYR, treat their dates to pancakes in the South Dining Hall.
The dorms exceptional camaraderie may stem in part from its historically close quarters, where generations of Manorites dwelled in some of the most cramped rooms on campus. Panicularly notorious were the Dirty Thirty, the basement habitats whose occupants had access to only two showers. Recent renovations and updates, however, have dispatched the Dirty Thirty, enlarged the residents' rooms, and added lounge, laundry, and study areas. On the outside, Morrissey got a new roof and some other repairs, but its famous facade was kept timelessly intact.
About the time that the insignia of Oxford and Cambridge were installed in Morrissey Hail, the University of Notre Dame proudly acquired its own newly created shield; a blue field with a gold cross, a silver star, two wavy lines, and an open book with the Latin words Vita, Dulcedo, Spes. Blue and gold; of course, are the traditional colors of Mary while the motto, which translates as "Life, Sweetness, and Hope," comes from an age-old prayer to the Blessed Mother. The cross indicates the Congregation of Holy Cross; the star; Marys status as the Star of the Sea; the wave-like lines, Notre Dames lakes; and the book, learning.