Hall Portrait: Saint Edward's

Author: Alyson Tomme '02 and Kristin Kramer '02

Year Built: 1882

Capacity: 177

Female or male: always male

They Call Themselves: The Men of Saint Edward’s Hall. Occasionally, this may be shortened to “Stedsmen,” but it is the only dorm that does not have a genuine nickname or mascot.

Named for: Saint Edward the Confessor (1003-1066), patron of Notre Dame founder Father Edward Sorin, CSC. Noted for his piety, Saint Edward built the original Westminster Abbey in 1065 (the present edifice was constructed in 1245). A statue of Saint Edward, church in hand, stands in front of the hall’s south entrance.

Distinguishing features: Like the Main Building, the original portion of Saint Ed’s was constructed of yellow bricks baked from marl dredged from the floor of the lakes. Saint Ed’s is the only Notre Dame residence hall listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eight stained-glass windows of various saints add character to the second-floor chapel. Father Sorin looks out from a stained-glass panel on the first-floor landing. The hall also is noted for its large rooms with high ceilings ranging from 9½ to 13 feet.

History made there: Saint Ed’s is the oldest building currently used as a residence hall, but it’s not Notre Dame’s first college dorm. That distinction belongs to Sorin Hall, which opened in 1888. Saint Ed’s was originally built to board school boys ages 6-13 who were known as “minims.” Sorin, who was fond of saying Mass for the boys, called them his “little princes,” and Saint Edward’s Hall was their castle from 1882 until 1928. At that point Notre Dame phased out its grammar school, and the hall became a college dorm. Saint Ed’s was one of only two dorms (Sorin being the other) reserved for civilian students during World War II. In 1980 the fire alarm and sprinkler system short-circuited and, ironically, sparked a fire that damaged much of the fourth floor and a two-story annex. University officials debated whether to restore Saint Ed’s or tear it down, ultimately choosing to rebuild along the lines of the original architectural plan with a new full-height wing replacing the annex.

They lived there as students: Talk show host Phil Donahue ’57, Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung ’57.

Lore: Knute Rockne was baptized a Catholic in the Log Chapel on November 20, 1925, but he initially kept his conversion secret from his son, Knute Jr, a minim in Saint Ed’s. The next day, Knute Jr. was scheduled to receive his first communion in the hall chapel. As he approached the altar, Rockne surprised him by getting in line beside him. Saint Ed’s was once connected to a building containing a library, gym and roller skating rink, but that structure was demolished in 1930 to make way for Zahm Hall. Thus, historically-aware Stedsmen can claim that Zahm is on their land. Saint Ed’s, however, has traditionally gotten along well with its feuding neighbors Keenan and Zahm.

Traditions: Every fall semester, student hall leaders and other interested participants, known as the Saint Ed’s Hall Players, coordinate a theatrical production that’s then performed in Washington Hall before the dorm’s winter SYR. Five years ago rector David Scheidler, CSC, ‘87, ’93M.Div. had a brainstorm after watching the movie Braveheart, and now it’s a tradition for St. Ed’s residents to wear kilts to football pep rallies.