Don't fear creepy-looking Morrissey Hall
By MOLLY McSHANE
Editor's note: Scene will continue to feature the dorms and residence halls of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's throughout the spring semester. Anyone interested in writing a feature of a dorm should e-mail Scene at Scene@nd.edu.
When one stops and looks at Morrissey Hall from across the South Quad, he or she cannot help but notice its very non-dormish appearance. The long walkway leading up to the front entrance, the stately tower on the roof and the simple sign above the door: MORRISSEY MANOR, all lead one to believe that this is more than just a college dorm. It's an estate.
Perhaps this is what the dorm's 288 occupants originally thought when they were assigned Morrissey as their future home that fateful July before freshmen year. And weren't they surprised to realize that by "Manor," what was actually meant was "very small rooms." According to the hall's Web site, Morrissey was voted the "Worst Dorm in America" by Link Magazine.
And yet, the young men there seem to be able to look at all that and love Morrissey for what it truly is. "Even though the rooms are less than spacious, the group atmosphere more than makes up for the lack of room size," said sophomore Joe Larson. "When you are in as close of quarters as we are, you pretty much have to get to know everyone."
"People think that the rooms are small, but we have so many different setups, singles all the way up through eight-mans. With all that variety and the common rooms to work with, you don't lose that much space. And besides, the people in the Manor are so great, and Father Bill is the best rector on campus, so we don't mind losing a few square feet," said Mike Grau, who lives in one of the Manor's quads.
Morrissey is one of the oldest dorms on campus, built in 1925 and named after Father Andrew Morrissey, who was the president of the University in the beginning of the 20th century. It was designed by Francis Kervick of the Kervick and Fagan Architecture Firm, and although it has been renovated more than once, the Manor still retains much of its historic beauty. The main lobby is still decorated in a very similar fashion as it was back in the dorm's earliest years, giving Morrissey a definite sense of history and importance.
However, some find Morrissey's grandeur appearance to be imposing. "A girl I knew last year asked me how I could live here, because it `creeped her out' from the outside," said Grau.
It may be true that, from a few angles, Morrissey somewhat resembles a "Scooby Doo" mansion; but according to the young men who live within, there is nothing creepy about the Manor.
"It's a very laid-back place to live," said Larson. "Everyone really tries to get to know one another. Right away, when you move in, you are accepted as a part of the Morrissey community."
And Morrissey is not a bad community to be a part of either. With Hall Presidents Gerry Olinger, Paul Sepe and Dan Brosmer leading the Manorites into this, their 75th anniversary year, things could not be better for the Manor. Successful intramural teams and events such as the infamous Christmas SYR have helped to give Morrissey its impressive reputation.
So the next time the Manor's appearance leads you to believe that the eyes on the paintings within are watching you, remember two things: Morrissey is just like any other dorm, and the eyes only seem to be watching you because of the technique used by the artist.
All Scene Stories for Wednesday, February 9, 2000