Morris Inn at Notre Dame

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Discover the Morris Inn at Notre Dame with its central location on the university campus. The Morris Inn provides warmth and hospitality to member and visitors of the Notre Dame community.

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Morris Inn at Notre Dame, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2016, dates back to 1952.


A member of Historic Hotels of America since 2016, the Morris Inn at Notre Dame has been a fixture at the University of Notre Dame since the middle of the 20th century. While it first opened its doors during the 1950s, its origins actually trace further back to the early 1900s. In 1902, an undergraduate student named Ernest M. Morris could not pay his tuition. With his dreams of a diploma slipping away, Morris asked the school president for two favors: to let him continue enrollment on credit and to take care of his horse, Dexter. Father John W. Cavanaugh graciously agreed. Morris subsequently graduated not long thereafter and became a successful banker. In fact, he had even managed to found his own prosperous investment firm. Forever grateful, Morris eventually donated the generous sum of $1 million to aid the university in its planned expansion following World War II. Much of Morris’ funds helped to significantly increase the size of the campus grounds, constructing such iconic buildings like Fisher Hall, O’Shaughnessy Hall, and the Nieuwland Science Hall. The money also helped create a stunning Gothic Revival-style inn near the facility’s South Quadrangles area, which debuted to great acclaim in 1952. To commemorate the generosity Morris had displayed, school officials decided to call the new hotel the “Morris Inn.” (In reflection, Morris admitted afterward: “I’ll just never forget how kind Notre Dame was to my horse.”) The Morris Inn went on to became an incredibly popular destination for the University of Notre Dame, with some even referring to it as “the living room of the University.” Indeed, employees often recounted how busy the hotel seemed to be whenever the Fighting Irish football team was home during the fall semester. Then in 2012, Ernestine Raclin, daughter of the original hotel benefactors—along with her family and the Carmichael Foundation—provided a gift for the purpose of funding a major renovation to the Morris Inn. Closed for the first time in its history, the building underwent a significant, $30 million-restoration that concluded roughly a year later. Now open again as the “Morris Inn at Notre Dame,” the future of this magnificent historic hotel has never looked brighter.

  • About the Location +

    Located in South Bend, Indiana, the University of Notre Dame is one of America’s most prestigious institutions for higher learning. Organized into seven schools, the university is celebrated for its many educational programs in subjects like business, literature, and anthropology. But despite its great renown today, its origins are far humbler. In 1842, the University of Notre Dame was first organized as a frontier school at the behest of a European Catholic order known as the “Congregation of the Holy Cross.” Its leader, Father Edward Sorin, specifically founded the school within a rustic log chapel alongside less than a dozen fellow congregants from France and Ireland. Sorin and his cohort quickly raised several additional buildings in just a matter of months, including an elementary school, a vocational institute, and even an official church. Impressed, the Indiana state legislature eventually granted Sorin’s facility a charter under the title “University of Notre Dame du Lac” some two years later. Over the following decades, the name was shortened to the present “University of Notre Dame.” It also grew slowly, with various administrative officials wishing to only offer a small catalog of courses. Nevertheless, two presidents, Thomas E. Walsh and John Zahm, instituted various improvements to the university curriculum, intent on enhancing the school’s scholastic reputation. Both men oversaw the construction of many more educational facilities, such as libraries, science labs, and state-of-the-art classrooms. Perhaps the greatest building developed amid these periodic expansions was the beautiful Basilica of the Scared Heart, completed during Walsh’s tenure in 1888.

    Even though the University of Notre Dame was well-respected throughout the United States by the end of the 1800s, it did not develop its current standing until the start of the 20th century. During the 1920s, university president John W. Cavanaugh decided to further reform the school’s educational standards to the point where it would be recognized as a national center for cutting-edge research. He revolutionized the way the university awarded its degrees and greatly expanded the course offerings to cover topics ranging from chemical engineering to journalism. Additional presidents followed in Cavanaugh’s footsteps, who reorganized the campus to ultimately contain multiple colleges and a law school. Meanwhile, the university’s athletics program underwent a dramatic transformation of its own, particularly regarding its collegiate football team. Known as the “Fighting Irish,” the football team emerged as a dominant force in the nascent world of college sports. Much of this change occurred thanks in large part to its innovative head coach, Knute Rockne. Under Rockne’s guidance, the Fighting Irish would amass an astounding record of 105 wins to 12 loses, including three national championship victories. However, the team’s success had an unintended effect—it spawned a significant source of revenue for the university. The Fighting Irish themselves soon became national icons for generations, with Rockne’s even being immortalized in a special Hollywood film called Knute Rockne: All American. (Future U.S. President Ronald Reagan appeared in the movie as well, playing legendary college quarterback George Gipp.)

    The University of Notre Dame experienced yet another substantial period of growth in the wake of World War II, which was presided over by President Theodore Hesburgh. Among his most noteworthy accomplishments involved the increase of both the operating budget and annual endowment. He also managed to enlarge the campus population to house several thousand students. A major contributor to that change was the introduction of the University of Notre Dame as a coeducational compound. (The university specifically absorbed an affiliated, all-girls Saint Mary’s College.) In essence, Hesburgh established the foundation for the university’s modern culture and current academic level of excellence. Indeed, the elevation of the University of Notre Dame to national repute even inspired the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to list several buildings within the school on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Today, the University of Notre Dame continues to be a celebrated educational institute in America. The school hosts over 10,000 students on average, who study several dozen different subjects. In fact, there are more than 50 graduate programs alone at the University of Notre Dame. Its alumni body is also one of the most highly regarded throughout the country, which includes many influential figures like Nobel laurate Eric Wieschaus, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Pro-Football Hall-of-Famer Joe Montana, and television personality Regis Philbin. As such, few schools in the United States can truly rival the heritage present at the illustrious University of Notre Dame.

  • About the Architecture +

    The Morris Inn at Notre Dame stands today as a brilliant example of Gothic Revival architecture here in the United States. Gothic Revival-style architecture itself is part of the artistic movement known as “Romanticism,” which swept through Europe and North America for much of the 19th century. This demarcated a distinctive break from the Neoclassicism of the century prior, which drew its architectural inspiration from the Greco-Roman civilizations of antiquity. The desire for the medieval design principles of Gothic Revival architecture reflected a broader trend within Western societies—particularly in European countries—to preserve the past in some meaningful way. As such, architects took to preserving the surviving buildings from the period, while also creating new ones that mirrored the aesthetic. The most common structural elements incorporated into buildings developed with Gothic Revival style were the pointed arch. This profound feature manifested in windows, doors, and rooftop gables. Yet, it also influenced the development of entire substructures, causing the creation of such features as mock parapets, conical towers, and high spires. Other characteristics associated with Gothic Revival-style architecture included a special kind of wooden trimming known as either vergeboards or bargeboards. Porches also featured turned posts or slender columns, while the roof was often deeply pitched and lined with dormers. Architects typically used this style for rural buildings set within a historic village or town, although some in the field—such as Thomas Pringle in America—chose it for commercial structures from time to time. Churches were the buildings that featured Gothic Revival style the most, as their natural layout was well-suited to showcase the best of the form.

  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (1953 – 1961) and Supreme Allied Commander Europe during World War II.

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