From the Archives: Notre Dame’s recent growth in campus housing
Join us as we delve into the history of Notre Dame’s residence halls, specifically the construction of dorms on the northeast and west parts of campus. In 1979, the University announced plans to build two new dorms specifically for female students, marking a significant milestone for gender equality on campus. In 1981, Pasquerilla East and West Halls were dedicated in an extravagant two-day ceremony in November of that year, featuring a dedication mass presided by Fr. Hesburgh and a special “Festi di Pasquerilla.” Later in the 1980s, two more women’s dorms joined the party, Siegfried and Knott Halls, the latter of which was the first dorm on campus to be named after a woman. Fast forward to the 1990s, when Grace and Flanner Halls closed down, the University was well-prepared, having already begun the construction of West Quad. With the erection of a new male dorm on campus, we explore the evolution of Notre Dame’s housing infrastructure and the social implications of these changes.
A new quad on campus and the first dedicated female dorms
In 1979, the growing University of Notre Dame announced that it would build two new dorms to house 500 students. These would be the first dorms built since Lewis Hall in the mid-1960s, and would form the new “northeast quad” along with recently completed Flanner and Grace Halls, which served as dorms at the time.Most importantly, the new residences would be the first built specifically for women. When female students first enrolled at Notre Dame in 1972, they lived in converted male dorms Badin and Walsh, as well as Lewis, previously a graduate student residence.The dorms were named Pasquerilla East and West in honor of Frank J. Pasquerilla, a real estate developer who donated $7 million ($27.5 million today — the largest gift by a living person to Notre Dame up to that point) toward the construction of the new residences.
Observer Archives, Dec. 7, 1979.
“I feel funny about a building having my name while I’m still living,” Pasquerilla said. But the Italian-American also joked that “on the other hand, there are too many buildings with Irish names on this campus.”The pair of Pasquerillas opened in 1981 and were dedicated in an extravagant two-day ceremony in November of the same year. Events included a dedication mass presided by Fr. Hesburgh and a special “Festi di Pasquerilla” to honor Frank Pasquerilla’s heritage with violin music, an exhibition of Italian paintings at the Snite and an Italian luncheon.Later in the 1980s, two more women’s dorms would join the Pasquerilla party north of Hesburgh Library. Completed in 1988, Siegfried and Knott Halls were once again named in honor of donors. The latter was the first dorm on campus to be named after a woman: Marion Burk Knott, wife of benefactor Henry Knott.
Observer Archives Aug. 20, 1988.
Observer Archives Aug. 20, 1988However, Knott and Siegfried were later converted to male residences in 1997, with implications for the apparent gender imbalances in enrollment practices — a phenomenon made visible in the unequal allocation of dorms. Notre Dame has enrolled 10.6% more men than women, on average, over the past two decades, and despite already having a majority of on-campus beds earmarked for men, another male dorm is currently under construction.Still, the dorms in what is now known as “Mod Quad” represent an important evolution in the history of Notre Dame as the University constructed new spaces to house an increasing number of female students in the decade after it became coeducational.
Although the closure of Grace and Flanner Halls during the 1990s left hundreds of students without a home on campus, the University of Notre Dame prepared for this period of transition with the construction of “West Quad,” kicking off in 1995. The former Grace Lightning and Flanner Gamecocks quickly reestablished their home on campus, south of South Dining Hall, in what would become Keough and O’Neill Family Halls. However, the two new and improved male dormitories were not the only projects in the works. “The most recent plans feature a West Quad comprised of four dorms (plans have already been established to construct Keough and O’Neill Halls, and two more dorms may be built in the future), four basketball courts and four football recreational fields,” wrote Amy Schmidt, assistant news editor for the Observer in 1995. Built for a 250 student capacity on an $18 million dollar budget, the new dorms mimicked those on the main quad, which included limited space for vehicles to ensure a robust pedestrian environment. Construction of Keough and O’Neill Hall concluded a little over a year later, only to pick up again for the construction of McGlinn and Robert and Kathleen Welsh Family Halls.
Observer Archives, May 16, 1997.
McGlinn and Welsh Halls under construction in 1997.
“With structure completion set for mid-July (of 1997), the dorms, which each have a $20 million price tag, are progressing more quickly and efficiently than their counterparts, Keough and O’Neill Family Halls, which were completed just days before the opening of the fall 1996 semester,” wrote Observer Assistant News Editor, Michelle Krupa ‘00. Within the span of two or so years, four new dorms had been introduced for members of the Notre Dame Community, comprising the entirety of West Quad until 2007. Duncan Hall, located west of McGlinn Hall, marked a new era of dorm construction which would carry on for the next 10 years. John Affleck-Graves, Executive Vice President, who oversaw the project identified what he viewed as an urgent need for new dormitories on campus.“Affleck-Graves said the University has three main goals for Duncan Hall and the three other dorms it wants to build: reduce the stress of overcrowding in current dorms, accommodate more transfer students with additional on-campus housing options and allow juniors and seniors more on-campus living arrangements with more singles, doubles and triples,” wrote news writer Ken Fowler ‘08. Raymond T. Duncan ‘52 funded the construction of the dorm which featured social lounges, kitchens, study areas and vending machines for each section. The newest dorms on West Quad intended to draw students in with their new amenities. This intention guided the construction of the 74,600 square-foot residence, Ryan Hall, which began housing 246 women in the Fall of 2009.
Ryan Hall nears completion in April 2009.
Rooms featured in Ryan Hall included singles, doubles, quads, super doubles and super quads. The super doubles and super quads included additional amenities such as bay windows and private bathrooms. Liz O’Donnell wrote: “On the first floor, there will be a main lounge similar to the 24-hours spaces located in each dorm, as well as a kitchen and a food-serving area. There will also be sets of a stove, oven and dishwasher located on the second and third floors.” From the addition of air conditioning and elevators to the dorm constructions of the 1990s to the modern provisions of the 2000s, there is no denying that a new standard for dorm life was set at the University of Notre Dame. The only question that remains is what university staff will come up with next as the scaffolds of a new men’s residence hall are raised on the north side of campus.
Remembering the Dorms of Yesteryear: The Legend of Holy Cross, Flanner and Grace Halls
Looking back at the storied history of the University of Notre Dame, it is important to remember the cherished residence halls that have come and gone. Among the most beloved were Holy Cross, Flanner, and Grace Halls, which hold a special place in the hearts of many alumni.One of the University’s most historic halls was Holy Cross, located on St. Mary’s Lake, which first served as a bustling seminary for aspiring priests. Emblematic of the Universities’ broader housing crunch in the ‘60s, the University leased Holy Cross Hall from the Congregation of Holy Cross. Despite its construction, 80 freshmen were unable to find housing on campus the following year.In 1990 the University announced plans to demolish Holy Cross Hall. William Kirk, then-rector of Holy Cross Hall, acknowledged that “the cost of repairs would be too great” and described the building as “very old” and “deteriorating both inside and out.”
Observer Archives, Feb. 21, 1990.
Flanner and Grace Hall were other beloved residence halls that closed their doors in the ‘90s. However, unlike Holy Cross Hall, the buildings themselves avoided the fate of Holy Cross Hall and instead remained in use as offices and classrooms. Located near Hesburgh Library, Flanner Hall could house up to 530 residents at a time. Its closure was met with sadness and nostalgia, as many former residents recalled the friendships and experiences they had in Flanner. Shawn Nigg ‘98, a Flanner resident, implored his fellow students to support Flannerites in their final year, suggesting that everyone’s lives “will never be the same without it.”
Observer Archives, Feb. 27, 1997.
Grace Hall, a distinguished residence hall situated on the campus, was a replica of Flanner in terms of its structure and design. The “#1” sign prominently displayed on its roof became a hallmark identifier of Grace Hall, becoming an enduring tradition that surpassed the physical presence of the dormitory itself.Ed Tadajweski ‘96, a resident of Grace Hall, recalled that “When I was a sophomore, some of the R.A.s got students together and we joined forces to put up the sign while Notre Dame led in the polls,” said Tadajweski. All the local papers featured a photo of the sign, and students were inspired when they saw it lying on top of the tower. Tadajweski added that the tradition “was great because we unified the entire campus amidst the celebration.” To this day, the sign illuminates whenever a Notre Dame sports team claims the No. 1 spot.As the University of Notre Dame continues to grow and change, it’s important to take a moment to remember the halls that once stood and the students who called them home. While the physical structures may be gone in some cases, the memories and experiences of those who lived within their walls will never fade.