University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame
Notre Dame -- One Hundred Years / by Arthur J. Hope, C.S.C.

Chapter XV

THOMAS E. WALSH was but twenty-eight years old when he became President of the University of Notre Dame. He was a Canadian by birth, the son of Thomas Walsh and Winifred McDermott. In the little village of Lacolle in the parish of St. Bernard, neighbor to Montreal, he was born May 15th, 1853, and three days later, baptized in the parish church. He was one of nine children, the fourth in line of birth.[1]

Nearby was the parish of St. Laurent and the establishment of the Fathers of Holy Cross called the College de St. Laurent. When he was fifteen, Tom Walsh enrolled at that college. It may sound a bit threadbare to say that he at once gave evidence of a brilliant intellect, of serious study and sound piety. Yet in the case of Father Walsh it would be distinctly unjust to omit these observations. His mind really was extraordinary, his passion for intellectual growth truly amazing. Of his goodness and sense of religious values there can be no doubt. There is not a single instance, as we search through the records or interrogate those who knew him, of anyone who had a harsh word for Father Walsh. There is, indeed, only unstinted praise and affection.

In 1872 Thomas Walsh had completed his study of the humanities at St. Laurent. Father Sorin was then Superior-General. In his occasional visits to St. Laurent, his critical eye had fallen on young Walsh who had already signified his desire to become a priest of Holy Cross. Sorin consulted with the superiors of the Canadian province. One and all, they agreed that Walsh was a young man with a future. His fine young mind was tempered by judgment of exquisite rectitude. His bearing was confident and firm, his manners were those of a true gentleman turned devout monk. Here was a student, said Sorin, that deserved the best training possible. Walsh entered the novitiate in 1872. In 1873 Father Sorin packed him off to study at the College de Ste. Croix in Neuilly, near Paris. Of the three years that he spent at Neuilly we know little except that he gave universal satisfaction to his superiors and teachers. There are no letters to speak of between Walsh and Sorin. Indeed, there was no need of them, for during Father Walsh's stay in France, Father Sorin was there so very much that all their intercommunication could be viva voce.

The founder of Notre Dame, in sending Walsh for "superior studies," had had the best of intentions. But as so often happened under the direction of Sorin, new needs developed at Notre Dame which, in the founder's opinion, necessitated the curtailment of the education of his subjects. At any rate, before the completion of his theological studies, Walsh received orders to return to Notre Dame. Why not to Canada? Ah, that was one of Father Sorin's petty despotisms. In his mind, Notre Dame ever came first. And Notre Dame, said Sorin, could use a man of Walsh's calibre.

Accordingly, Thomas Walsh arrived at Notre Dame for the fall term of 1876. It was Father Colovin's last year in the presidency. Father Sorin was already growing very worried about conditions in the college. For one thing, the student body was diminishing day by day. Would Mr. Walsh, by his good judgment and affable manners, do what he could to see that a spirit of peace descended upon the College? And would he accept the obedience to teach the superior classes in Latin and Greek? There was, also, added Father Sorin, the necessity of completing his sacred studies so that he might be ordained in a year or so. Tom Walsh accepted the arrangements without any objection, as Father Sorin had foreseen he would.

That first year as a teacher must have been, in some respects, a trying one. Walsh understood quite clearly what Sorin expected of him. At the same time, Father Colovin was his immediate superior and none too friendly with Sorin. Walsh had an immense respect for Colovin's mind, for it was as bright as Walsh's own. But Colovin, by his aggressiveness, his independence, had mortally offended Sorin. And Walsh was caught between the crossfire of these antagonisms. What he would not have done to heal that breach! There was nothing for him to do, it seemed, but keep utterly aloof, to teach his classes with enthusiasm and earnestness, and by his perfect deportment give no lack of satisfaction to either side.

Then, in 1877, when Father Colovin euphemistically resigned, Father Corby was named president. Here again there was a contrast. Like Walsh, Corby was the good religious, obedient, pliant, cooperative. But what a difference in their minds! It must be said to Corby's credit that he at once petitioned that Thomas Walsh, although not yet ordained, might be named his his Vice-President and Director of Studies. He was ordained a priest, together with John O'Keefe, on August 29th, 1877. The ceremony took place at Notre Dame, the ordaining prelate Bishop Dwenger of Fort Wayne.[2]

When the whole machinery of college life was disrupted by the fire of 1879, Father Walsh played a fruitful but quiet part in the restoration of order. On him fell the burden of the reorganization of classes when the fall term opened; in the hardly rebuilt institution, it was his duty to find space for classes; he had to make out the schedules for the professors. And since all records had been destroyed in the fire, he had nothing to guide him but his prodigious memory and his eminent good sense. During the next two years he so thoroughly demonstrated his ability to run things with smoothness and dispatch that Father Sorin decided he should be president. Father Walsh took office in 1881.

Physically, the new president was of medium height, of strong and somewhat fleshy appearance. It cannot be said that his features were fine, although he was by no means a rugged type. The calmness and joy of his countenance, the wonderful smile that nearly always lit his face, are the things most often recalled by those who met him. His tendency toward flesh might, at first sight, seem to belie the fact of his intellectual vigor, unless we recall that other great men of intellect, one of whom was called the "Dumb Ox," had sometimes a tendency toward obesity.

Father Walsh might have reduced his figure by vigorous exercise, but when he had moments of leisure, he preferred to pass the time in reading. Those who lived with him recall how, on a summer's day, he would stretch out on the grass under some leafy tree, and find relaxation in the Pensées of Pascal or Bossuet's Histoire des Variations.

One might suspect from his very affability that Father Walsh could be imposed upon, that he might tolerate abuses and mediocre conduct rather than energetically repress them. In correcting neglect of duty, his words were not sharp. There was no lightning in his reprimand. Nor, yet, was there any soft tenderness. He was a man himself of such unimpeachable rectitude that his very poise was sufficient to obtain results once his displeasure had been quietly expressed. Although clothed with authority, he exercised it with no imperiousness. He had such nobility of character that he had no need of studied dignity. In him was a perfect blending of the innocence of a child and the wisdom of a man. And to do what he did for Notre Dame, he had need of all these qualities and the boundless grace of God.

It was manifest to Father Walsh that Notre Dame's scholastic standards had need of serious bolstering. Since his education had been largely Canadian and French, it may be presumed quite rightly that he was not in intimate touch with what was being done at the larger American universities. Of course, he would not have been in sympathy with that larger eclecticism that permitted students to enroll in whatever classes they fancied. This was true, not only because the student body at Notre Dame was to a great extent still occupied with secondary studies, but also because it was contrary to his own disciplined mind to think that a youngster could wisely determine his own course of study.

He saw, however, that there was need of reorganization. He began with the Law school which had been prosperous in former years, but had lately declined. To effect a change, he requested that William Hoynes take charge of the department. Professor Hoynes was, for fifty years, destined to be identified with the Law as taught at Notre Dame.[3] He was a native of County Kilkenny, Ireland, and was born in 1847. As a boy of seven, he was brought by his parents to this country and they settled in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. A mere youth, he learned the printer's trade in the offices of the LaCrosse Republican. The year following the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted in the Union forces as a private in Company A, 20th Wisconsin Infantry. He was mustered into service July 31, 1862, at Madison, Wisconsin. Having been asked his age, he said he was seventeen, although in reality he was only fifteen. "A mere stripling!" he said when later telling about his enlistment. At the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, he received a severe head wound in December, 1862, and eleven months later was honorably discharged. The future "Colonel" had not had enough, however, and after re-enlisting he was again mustered into service at Janesville, Wisconsin, in February, 1864, as a private in Company D, 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry. Again he was wounded, in the fighting in Mississippi. When the war was finally over, he was in Austin, Texas, and there, on November 15, 1865, he was honorably discharged.

He returned to his printing trade until the autumn of 1868 when he came, as a student, to Notre Dame. After graduation in 1872, he went to Brunswick, New Jersey, where he became editor of the Daily Times. That occupation lasted for two years. In the meantime, although he loved journalism, he turned his eyes to the law. He went to the University of Michigan in 1874 where he "read law" in the offices of Judge Cooley, working also, intermittently, for newspapers in Chicago and Peoria. Such was the informal organization of law classes in those days that one might study law and have other occupations on the side. From the University of Michigan, he received his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1877, was admitted to the bar in that state, and was later permitted to plead before the Superior Court in the State of Illinois, and finally, before the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1878, he received a Master of Arts degree from Notre Dame. His law practice in Chicago kept him so busy that he had no time for journalism.

Late in 1882, Father Walsh said that he thought Hoynes ought to come to Notre Dame and take charge of the Law School. Hoynes, with polysyllabic eloquence, opined that perhaps Father Walsh was right. Anyway, he came in January, 1883, and became practically a one-man law school. His classes were first taught in the Main Building, but were shortly moved to Sorin Hall, where a large room permitted Hoynes to hold his "Moot Court." It gave the boys, he said, some chance to accustom themselves to the surroundings they would actually meet when they began to practice. And it gave a better setting for the Colonel's grandiloquence and flair for impassioned oratory. The course was extended from two to three years. Hoynes, besides conducting the Moot Court, lectured for hours daily. He was assisted in various subjects by John Ewing and Lucius Hubbard of South Bend. Father Walsh, it seems, had done the right thing. The enrollment in the law school began to rise immediately.

Most individuals who heard Hoynes addressed as "Colonel," knowing that he was a veteran of the Civil War, imagined that he deserved that name by virtue of a regularly earned commission. Hoynes hardly ever bothered to dissipate that illusion. But the name came to him from quite a different source. During the '80's and '90's, Hoynes organized and drilled the military companies then present on the campus. He was the father of "Hoynes' Light Guards," and, though the students could have called him Major or General, they chose "Colonel." And thus he was established more intrenchably as a Colonel than many a commissioned man.

In the expanding field of science, Notre Dame had not kept pace with her contemporaries. Father Walsh was much impressed by the scientific curiosity of Father John Zahm and, still later, by that of his brother, Dr. Albert Zahm. Then, too, there was Father Alexander Kirsch, just returned from Louvain where he had studied biology under Abbé J. B. Carnoy. These professors had been giving their lectures in old Science Hall, as it was called, or Phelan Hall. These were two structures that had been part of the old church, the rear portion and the sacristy, and when the western extension, or Carroll Hall was added to the Main Building, it became necessary to demolish old Science Hall.[4] It was imperative, therefore, that Father Walsh put up a building to house the scientific equipment and provide classrooms and laboratories.

In 1882 it was decided to build what is now known as Science Hall. Edbrooke, the architect for the Main Building, was retained to design the new structure. Work was begun early in 1883, and on June 20th of that year Bishop Watterson of Columbus blessed the cornerstone as part of the commencement exercises.[5] It is of interest to note that that cornerstone was the gift of John B. Cassidy of the class of 1865, the first student to receive the degree of Bachelor of Science from Notre Dame.

The building itself was the fruit of Father Zahm's careful study. Zahm provided for things scientific on a grand scale for those days. He saw to it that laboratories were provided for physics, chemistry, botany, physiology, zoology, geology, mineralogy, mechanical engineering, and photography. There were also numerous class-rooms. In the centre of the building, and running two stories in height, was the museum for the display of various scientific specimens. Today that old building stands pretty much as it was then built, with the exception that it has received an addition at the rear for many more class-rooms. Of course, chemistry and biology and engineering have moved into their own quarters.

Father Kirsch's four-year course in biological science was not started until 1890, and was offered as an "immediate preparation for the study of medicine or veterinary science, or with a view to teaching or otherwise engaging in biological research." In the old catalogues that pre-dated this era, we find that the "science of anatomy" was taught by Rev. Louis J. Neyron. Father Neyron was a secular priest, one of the last of those early missionaries who had come to the great Northwest in 1835 on the appeal of Bishop Bruté. He told a fascinating story. It was to the effect that as a surgeon in the Army of the first Napoleon, he had been captured at Waterloo by the British, and then released among the British prisoners so that he might attend to their wounds. Earlier, he had been, so he said, with Napoleon at Moscow and had endured the terrible rigors of the retreat. After the downfall of Napoleon, he made up his mind to be a priest, so he betook himself to a seminary.[6]

Now, it is strongly suspected that Neyron's military experiences were largely a matter of his own imagination. As far as we can ascertain, he was not born until 1803, and wonderful as the French are, they don't become surgeons at the age of twelve. Probably he could have been a drummer boy, although that, too, seems unlikely. It is perfectly possible that he may have permitted such a story to circulate in playful innocence, only to be later amused at the awe and reverence bestowed on him as a consequence. When he came to Notre Dame, he was already advanced in years. There was no one who could say for certain that he was ten years younger than he pretended. Moreover, he did have a fine set of surgical instruments, and also a knowledge of materia medica wherever he had picked it up. As to his story? Eh, bien, he may have thought, what harm if I do embellish the tale a bit! Father Neyron became the campus authority on the Napoleonic Wars, and was frequently interviewed by the local newspapers and those of Chicago. To the whole story, perhaps, we might apply St. Augustine's solution of a biblical difficulty: non est mendacium, sed mysterium..

Under Father Walsh's administration, both Civil and Mechanical Engineering became regular four-year courses. As yet, there was no distinct course of electrical engineering. That came later.

Albert F. Zahm, brother of Father John A. Zahm, was born in 1862, at New Lexington, Ohio.[8] Coming to Notre Dame as a student in 1879, he enrolled in the Classical course, although his temperament was profoundly scientific. Albert Zahm was no ordinary student. His brilliant intellect seized without effort the results which others would expend hours to attain. It is interesting to note, too, that he was quite human. In his senior year, for instance, he confesses to a participation in one of those mild disorders attendant upon college life -- a grandiose pillow fight in the dormitory. Among those whom he roundly thumped were a future Brigader-General, a future professor of Engineering, and a dignified cleric. This rather happy event cost him the gold medal which he had already won three years running. His family, he confesses, was much chagrined when he returned home that year with only a silver medal. It is very heartening to recall this human side of a man who was destined to become so thorough a scholar. It explains now why he is as interested in the destinies of "Little Orphan Annie" as he is in the latest improvements in aircraft.

A great many of Albert's associates thought him quite a dreamer. Michael F. Healy, one of Zahm's classmates, wrote in 1926:

Few could foresee how so many of Zahm's dreams would come to fruition. He had definite ideas about the rocket-propulsion of boats over the surface of water; he invented a gun that would shoot around a corner; he designed a sort of helicopter that rose swiftly and crashed against the ceiling, a "sort of pocket-knife affair," as he called it.

In his senior year, he designed a rotor plane to be driven by a heat engine. With a feathering paddle-wheel on either side, the craft should rise vertically, hover, or travel swiftly, as the pilot controlled the power and paddle-setting eccentric. This scheme, however, he discarded in favor of the airplane.

His first experiments in the aerodynamic balance were performed in old Science Hall in 1880. In 1882 he built the first wind tunnel for comparing the lift and drag of aeronautical models. This tunnel he fashioned by removing the vibrating screens from a farmer's winnowing blower. Though only hand-driven, it could produce a fairly steady wind. He noted how much more efficient were arched than plane wings. He was among the first to favor the bird-shaped slender concave surfaces for the aircraft's wings and propellers. It is worth remembering that this wind tunnel was the forerunner of the world's first large wind tube, built later by Zahm, in 1901, at the Catholic University.

In 1883 he was graduated from Notre Dame, but stayed on at the University as a professor of Mathematics. He himself says that his finest discovery came in his junior year at college, when he came to know that he "could read college text-books on Mathematics without assistance." Aeronautic research, however, was his passion. To this end, he studied French, German, Italian, and Spanish; he took practical courses in the engineering shops; read works on mechanical engineering, and joined the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; he studied bird-flight, dissected wings of various types, read books on bird anatomy and animal mechanism.

These were the years when he made numerous flying models, and developed gliders capable of steady and stable flight when launched freely. From the ceiling of the museum in the new Science Hall, he suspended, by a fifty-foot rope, a flying machine operated by foot power. On this his shop assistant, George Archambault, made flights about the museum to test the merits of various kinds of propellers. As a diversion, the rider once was mounted on a big fish, with pedals to make the tail wag for propulsion; again, on a huge bird with two long black wings which, beating up and down, drove the suspended weight as if in real flight, round and round the lamp-lit museum. Brother Benedict, the curator, next morning found foot marks high up on the wall. These were the imprints that George Archambault had left when he put out his foot to save himself from bumping the wall in his rapid bank around the air. Brother Benedict figured that only the devil could walk up the side of the wall, blessed himself and sprinkled the place copiously with holy water.

Dr. Zahm built a man-carrying glider in the later eighties, and used it for short flights at night on the senior campus. Later still, gliders were launched from the roof of Science Hall. This was so successful that Zahm attempted to get a baloonist to raise the gliders so that they might be released from higher altitudes. The University could not stand the expense, but it is interesting to recall that two decades later Professor Montgomery of Santa Clara used this method with splendid, practical results.

During his last year at Notre Dame, Albert Zahm, in cooperation with Octave Chanute, organized America's first International Aeronautic Congress, held with the engineering congress at Chicago during the World's Fair of 1893. He was the General Secretary and Chanute was Chairman of the Conference. Zahm presented two important papers during the conference. The first of these papers dealt with the varying wind currents -- up and down, right and left -- that were experienced in open-field flying. "Sixteen years later, this paper was cited in the Wright-Curtiss patent litigation as authoritative proof of the unsteady wind conditions met by an airplane in ordinary flight." The instruments described in this paper were designed and constructed in the Notre Dame Mechanical Engineering Department. Observations with these instruments began in a large meadow close to the University in the fall of 1892 and were completed the following January. A university anemometer was made to record wind movements in a large field south of the Senior campus, now a parking lot west of the Stadium.

Zahm's second paper at this conference was entitled "Stability of Aeroplanes and Flying Machines." Therein, he explained to the Congress how to make the plane inherently stable so that the craft would balance itself without the pilot's aid. It was the first paper in America to disclose the modern method of launching an airplane, and of manually controlling its flight, by rotating parts of its wings to balance it laterally, and using a double tail to balance it against pitching and yawing. Zahm gave his discoveries to the public without bothering to patent his findings. In the next decade the equivalent of Zahm's research was covered by the patent claims first of Matthullath, then of the Wright brothers, then of Professor Montgomery. The question of priority and patent rights to this airplane control system, technically called the "three rudder" control, was never finally decided in the American courts. The last suit of Wright vs. Curtiss was discontinued by mutual agreement.

Notre Dame is tremendously proud of Albert Zahm. His record reads like that of one whose exploits fill the world with admiration.[10] In 1925 Notre Dame honored him with the Laetare Medal.

In American universities it was becoming less of a heresy to consider culture as strictly bound up with Latin and Greek. There was a growing tendency among many, including Father Walsh, to recognize the fact that there were beauties about our own language which were overlooked in the narrow Arts and Letters course. It was determined, therefore, to offer a course of studies called "Belles Lettres," in which particular emphasis should be laid on the reading of English and American authors, studies in rhetoric and style, the composition of essays, the drama and poetry.

Of this matter, Father Walsh talked frequently to Father Daniel Hudson, the editor of The Ave Maria, who, although he never taught at the University, had a subtle influence on the teaching policy. Hudson was mild and gentle but he could spot weaknesses with acumen and suggest remedies with persistence. Because of his own gracious literary style and his acquaintance with living authors, his opinion was especially valuable. In the pages of The Ave Maria, edited by Father Hudson, there had been appearing occasional articles from the pen of Charles Warren Stoddard, the author of the exquisite Idylls of the South Seas. Of him, Father Hudson spoke frequently to Father Walsh. Stoddard had indicated in some of his letters that he was becoming tired of being a "literary tramp," and longed to settle down, perhaps in some peaceful monastery. He even mentioned Monte Cassino as a likely spot.[11]

At any rate, in March, 1884, Father Hudson suggested to Father Walsh that Stoddard was perhaps the very man to take over the new course in "Belles Lettres." Father Walsh was pleased. The offer was made with a delicacy characteristic of Hudson. "Would Stoddard like to come?" The answer came by the first boat from Honolulu. "I would be delighted to come!"

After his first enthusiastic acceptance, Stoddard evidently began to have some scruples. Already over forty years of age, he had never taught or lectured, and had lived pretty much the life of a Bohemian. He began to doubt whether it would be wise to submit to the discipline of the class-room. He voiced his uneasiness to Father Hudson. He was so anxious for exact details as to what would be expected of him that he outlined the following questions for Father Hudson's answer:

Finally, Stoddard made up his mind to come to Notre Dame. He arrived for the spring term in 1885. He would have been utterly lost had it not been for Father Hudson. That good Father had a perfect sympathy for the shy and sensitive Stoddard. He visited him frequently, and took him some little treasure, now a book, now a picture, sometimes a letter from Longfellow or Mark Twain. Stoddard was eternally grateful for the gift of a rocking-chair, and spoke of Father Hudson delicate sense of anticipation more than once.

But the Bohemian was in his blood and Stoddard found the confinement excruciating. His sensitive nature recoiled from the warning administered by Father Regan, the prefect of discipline, that he must not give "sigarettes" to the boys. The idea! It was too much for a man of his years and his temperament. And the Indiana climate, too, was anything but kind, to his way of thinking. He gave up his post in 1887 and somehow always resented Notre Dame, although his affection for Father Hudson never ceased.

To take the place of Mr. Stoddard, Father Walsh procured the services or Maurice Francis Egan. Mr. Egan had a wide literary reputation in Catholic circles throughout the United States. He was a poet of great charm, had also written some fine novels, and just prior to his coming to Notre Dame, had been Editor of the New York Freeman's Journal.[13] Unlike Stoddard, Egan was very much at ease with all good company. He was endowed with charming manners and a cultured taste that made him welcome wherever he went. His first connection with Notre Dame seems to have been on that occasion when, after the fire of 1879, he wrote and edited a book of verse which was to be sold for the benefit of the fire-stricken university.

In 1889, Mr. Egan announced to a few friends that he was leaving New York to assume the "chair of Literature" at the University of Notre Dame, out in Indiana. His friends gasped. Most of his audience had never been west of the Alleghenies and nursed some rather strange ideas about Indiana. Egan smiled reassuringly and repeated that he was packed and ready to go.

That year, he came with his wife and three children. Father Walsh had the University build for Mr. Egan a home at the southern edge of the campus.[15] It was a two-storied, yellow brick affair and is yet standing. It has suffered through the years, but it was considered quite elegant at the time, even though Egan did call it a "cottage." Egan christened it "The Lilacs," and wrote to all his friends suggesting that they send him lilac plants of different varieties that he might make a hedge about his home. Lilacs, be wrote, thrive abundantly in this country, and when they flower, it will be a reminder of friendship. Many of his acquaintances responded. Today that hedge nearly hides the house from view.

South Bend society cordially welcomed Egan. it was not often that they had in their midst a man so marvelously read, so widely traveled, and of such courtly manners. They were highly flattered to have Egan in their homes. They were delighted, also, when he asked them to drop in for an afternoon or evening at "The Lilacs." The new professor, however, was careless about his appointments. Invited guests, preened and scrubbed, presented themselves at Egan's door, only to find the host absent or just going out. It happened so often that, gradually, no one took Egan's invitations very seriously. He did, however, enjoy finding himself the center of South Bend hospitality and seems to have been mightily pleased to find himself the criterion by which the native Hoosier judged social practice and conduct. He chuckled often at hearing some of the reports about him: "Mr. Egan dresses for dinner! Dr. Egan dons a silk hat in the evening! Egan bows like a gentleman!"

He had no scruple about tasting a bit of sherry with his dinner, and it gave him an almost devilish delight to offer a drop of wine to the Victorian ladies who called, of an afternoon, on Mrs. Egan. He says, in his memoirs, that he possessed the only opera hat in South Bend, and that it was frequently borrowed for amateur theatricals. Finally, when all its "spring" had vanished, it was consigned to the boys at Notre Dame where it became one of the "props" for the University theatre.[16] Someone had said that the people of South Bend were so much impressed by this bit of head gear that Sam Adler, a local haberdasher, besieged with orders for opera hats, had to send for a carload of these toppers.

The administration of Father Walsh was also noted for the number of buildings erected during his term as President. It seems proper, at this place, to speak of the beautiful College Church which, although not begun during his term, was brought to completion while he was yet President. We find many records that call this edifice the finest example of Gothic architecture in America. That, of course, is not true. But at the time of its completion, it was one of the handsomest churches in this vicinity. In the spring of 1869 it was decided to build a new church dedicated to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.[17] Of course, there was very little money with which to begin the foundation, but Father Sorin, together with Father Granger, saw that the old church was not large enough for the then present student body. They discussed the matter for several months and finally resolved to engage the services of Patrick C. Keely as architect.[18]

After some consultation, Mr. Keely drew up a plan for a church quite similar to that of the Gesu in Rome. Of course, the church at Notre Dame was not to be as large or as elaborate as the Roman edifice, but rather similar to the size of the church of the same name and type built in Montreal.[19] Mr. Keely's plans called for a cruciform church two hundred feet in length, with three naves and a transept, large enough to seat two thousand persons. Moreover, he had designed a dome which was to be placed over the intersection of the transept at the central nave. On the exterior, at each side of the facade, were to be placed two large bell-towers. Mr. Keely estimated that the church would cost one hundred thousand dollars.[20]

When Father Sorin returned from France, he decided that Keely's plans were too grandiose. He told the University authorities that they could never afford such an expenditure. He determined that a church must be built which would cost not more than half the sum indicated by Keely. He pointed out that there was only about eight thousand dollars on hand, and the plans would, therefore, have to be modified.[21]

The present church bears no semblance to the plans of Mr. Keely. The Gesu is a baroque edifice, while the church at Notre Dame is Gothic. It is strange that in the records of the time we find no conclusive evidence as to the architect under whom the church was built and brought to completion. But it is certain that Mr. Keely's plans were dropped. In January, 1870, before the church was started, we find Mr. J. Brady, a well-known architect of St. Louis at Notre Dame with plans for the new church.[22] From later records we find the information that one of the Brothers here at Notre Dame, most probably Brother Charles, was instrumental in prosecuting the erection of the church as it stands today.[23] Certainly, when the steeple was added in 1893, it was Brother Charles who was credited with drawing the plans.[24]

The foundations for the new church were begun in the spring of 1870. The cornerstone was blessed by Archbishop Purcell, assisted by five other bishops, on May 31, 1871.[25] The period of construction was protracted. We know, however, that five years after its inception, a large portion of the church was ready for occupation. We even have certain photographs that show the church completed to the first pillar inside the present sanctuary. At that point, the rear wall of the Church was bricked up and so remained for at least five or six years longer. A new organ, at the "fabulous" price of six thousand dollars, was installed, and on June 6, 1875, Professor Folk of Chicago, a graduate of the Leipsig Conservatory, gave a concert on the organ. The main altar, an exquisite product in bronze from the shops of Froc-Robert in Paris, which had been sent to Philadelphia for the Centennial Exposition, was purchased by Father Sorin and placed in the Church.

In 1886, when the new Science Hall had been completed and all the physical and chemical apparatus removed from old Phelan Hall, the rear portion of the old church was demolished and the absidal chapels were begun. Finally, the beautiful Lady Chapel was added. In this Lady Chapel Father Sorin placed the gilded baroque altar which he had purchased in Rome. While he was in Rome in 1887, he had seen the altar, which was for sale, but he had felt the price rather beyond his means. After he returned home and saw the empty chapel, he immediately sent word to Rome that he would purchase the altar at the price given.[26] It is not, so far as we know, the work of Bernini, as has often been stated, but it most certainly is the product of one of Bernini's pupils. It is, perhaps, the most attractive altar in the College Church, and it is the one before which the students, during a greater part of the year, adore the Blessed Sacrament exposed for their veneration.

The remarkable stained glass windows were designed and their making was supervised by the Carmelite Nuns of Le Mans, France. The church wes entirely free of debt by 1888. This was the year of Father Sorin's golden jubilee of ordination. And the Bishop of Fort Wayne solemnly consecrated the church on August 15th of that same year.[27] The care with which the Church had been built, the exquisite grace of its exterior, the lavish attention that was spent on the decoration by Gregori of the interior were, in no small measure, due to the vigilant zeal of Father Granger, to whom Father Sorin had committed most of the work.

Elsewhere we have spoken of the construction of the Main Building. But there was much left for Father Walsh to complete. For example, what is now known as Brownson and Carroll Halls were provided with large extensions, permitting root study halls and more dormitory space. The dome had not yet been erected. From the beginning Father Sorin had insisted the building should be eventually crowned by a dome upon which, as in former days, would be placed a statue of Our Lady. The statue had indeed been ordered almost since the fire of 1879. It was sixteen feet in height, and designed by a Chicago artist, Giovanni Meli. It arrived at Notre Dame in 1880, and since the dome had not yet even been started, the statue was raised above the front porch of the Main Building. There it stayed for three years, for it was not until 1882 that the brick foundation work to support the dome was completed. The iron framework, the panels and the columns supporting the dome, were added during the summer of 1882 and the dome itself was finished in September of that same year. In October came the long-awaited event -- the hoisting of the statue to its place on the dome. The statue weighed 4400 pounds. After it was removed from the porch and brought to the rear of the Main Building, work was begun on the hoisting. It was a perilous job. It took a day and a half to complete the task. At five o'clock in the afternoon of one Thursday, when it was finally in place, the long-expected cheer went up from the students and clergy, who now saw Our Lady reign once more over the campus.[28]

The building of a residence hall with private rooms for students does not attract extraordinary attention today. The idea is no longer new. But in the 1880's it was revolutionary, at least in Catholic colleges. Tradition then called for the open dormitory and the open study hall. To build a residence hall with private rooms involved a violent clash with tradition. It aroused severe criticism even among the members of the faculty. It was characteristic, however, of Father Walsh's progressive spirit that he sought to break through the prejudices of his time by building such a residence hall.

A few years prior to the erection of this residence hall, private rooms in the Main Building had been offered to some few students, but the demand for such privacy was so great that it soon obliged the University to raise the price of these rooms in order to check the demand. Moreover, to retain these private rooms, students were obliged to be above the average both in conduct and study. The system worked so well that some of the priests, particularly Father Zahm, began to ask themselves the question: Would it not be better to permit many more to have private rooms in consideration for the good results thus far obtained? Students, they thought, who were confirmed in studious habits and becoming conduct could do better work in private rooms than in the common study halls. Accordingly, the University asked Edbrooke and Burnham of Chicago to draw plans for the new residence hall. Ground was broken in the spring of 1888 for "Collegiate Hall," as it was called when started. On May 27, 1888, Father Sorin blessed the cornerstone as part of the student celebration of his Golden Jubilee, and the hall was thenceforward called after him, Sorin Hall.[29]

The new building was under cover by September and finished by the end of the year. It was opened to the students on New Year's day, 1889, when they returned to the campus after the Christmas holidays. Father Sorin blessed the Chapel of Saint Thomas Aquinas and said the first Mass in it on January 11, 1889.[30] Sorin Hall as it was then built (for it was later enlarged) provided fifty single rooms, "large enough to encourage study and at the same time small enough to discourage visiting.[31] This expression, "small enough to discourage visiting," was merely wishful thinking. After fifty-odd years of watching students in private rooms, it cannot be said that any room, however small, could discourage visiting.

The first floor had the chapel on the right, or north side, while the south floor was given over to the Law Department of Colonel Hoynes, who lived in an adjacent room.

Two years after its completion, Maurice Francis Egan wrote an article for the Catholic World on Catholic colleges, and the open dormitory system, using Sorin Hall as an example of the successful new departure. He stressed the need for an extension of residence halls with private rooms, and pointed out that Catholic colleges were losing students because many young men recoiled "from the traditional system which was losing favor in the secular colleges."[32] This advancement, he said, was necessary if Catholic institutions were to become colleges instead of remaining mere preparatory schools. Mr. Egan admitted that most of the Catholic colleges in the United States had begun as preparatory schools. When they later developed into colleges, they superimposed preparatory school discipline on collegiate students. This, wrote Mr. Egan, was both unwise and fruitless. To compel college students to live in crowded study halls and open dormitories would, he said, act as a drawback on the development of the Catholic colleges.

Sorin Hall was reserved for juniors and seniors of all college departments, admission to it being a privilege for those of high scholastic standing and good conduct. No extra fee was charged for rooms. The "audacious experiment," as Egan called it, was a great success, and this he attributed to the distribution of rooms according to merit. "The success of Sorin Hall marks an epoch in the beginning of a synthesis between tradition and the demands of the present time. In Father Walsh's day Notre Dame was considered as a place where one might begin his education at five or six years of age, and complete it after the attainment of a Bachelor's degree in one of the various colleges. Both he and Sorin had a very great affection for young children, and early provided for them an education under the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Those between the ages of six and thirteen were called Minims. Up until the great fire of 1879, they were housed in the Main Building. But with the growth of the University which followed upon Father Walsh's inauguration, it was felt that they must have a place to themselves. In the summer of 1882, accordingly, the University began the erection of what at first was known as "Minims' Hall." The Minims had also a four-acre play field to the rear of the building and an adjoining play hall used during inclement weather. In front, they had a small park or garden with a statue of Saint Edward, Father Sorin's patron saint. The Minims were Father Sorin's favorite group, and he called them his "Princes," and their hall, the "Palace." He encouraged them to bring new students by offering prizes and once more promised a royal Parisian dinner to celebrate the arrival of the one-hundredth Minim. The dinner took place on November 24, 1883, following the arrival of Edward Sorin Ewing, of Lancaster, Ohio. Sorin invited all the parents to come for the celebration, and he himself wrote a play called "The New Arts," which was performed by the Minims before the banquet.[33] The growth of this department in the eighties was such as to require the addition of a wing to the east of the hall, and that was erected in 1887 to help house the two hundred boys in attendance that year.

These were the principal buildings erected during the presidency of Father Walsh. A number of smaller service buildings, a gymnasium and shops were also put up. The period was one of reconstruction and physical growth as well as academic development. It was during the presidency of Father Walsh that the old campus, the quadrangle, received the form which in large part it still retains today.

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