Meet me at the Irish Green

Author: John Nagy ’00M.A.

To visitors, the open field north of Edison Road between Notre Dame Avenue and Eddy Street has been Notre Dame’s rather plain front lawn. To students, it’s just that area over “behind” the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC).

The 16-acre site that opened up when Edison was rerouted in 2005 has served few formal purposes since it was planted in feed clover 100 years ago as part of the University farms. Today it has a new name, a new look and a new purpose. As landscapers complete work this summer on the Irish Green, administrators see it as a gathering spot, an idyllic site for University receptions and an important civic link to the larger South Bend community.

“It is a place where the city and the university come together. We hope it will be seen as a very relaxed and inviting area for the public,” says James J. Lyphout, the University’s vice president for business operations. “It’s kind of opening our arms to welcome the community.”

Winding asphalt walkways lined with benches intersect at a brick plaza in the center of the park and will provide a bucolic shortcut for students en route to the Eddy Street Commons, or for stadium-bound football fans parked on the residential streets south of Cedar Grove Cemetery and the Notre Dame Golf Course. Mature elms and maples will dominate the grounds, sharing space with hickories, beeches, oaks, magnolias and lindens along with a variety of shrubs, ground covers and evergreens. In all, more than 200 trees and 250 shrubs are being planted over the summer.

The $3 million project, conceived in the 2002 campus plan and carried out by The Troyer Group, a Mishawaka-based engineering and architectural firm, includes an expansion of the terrace on the DPAC’s south side. DPAC director Anna M. Thompson says specific plans for the terrace are still in the works, but she envisions it as a “sixth stage” for occasional film screenings and informal performances, free and open to the public, of everything from live music to dance ensembles to Summer Shakespeare.

“Think of Lincoln Center in the summertime,” Thompson says. “There’s a lot of possibilities there.”

As work on the Eddy Street Commons site proceeds this year, the lone undeveloped corner of the Eddy-Edison intersection lies on the northeast, where Lyphout says plans call for a new art museum building.