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Zahm Hall


The following description of  Zahm Hall is from the superb guide book, Notre Dame, the Official Campus Guide, by Damaine Vonada. It's available in the book section at:

The second dormitory built on the North Quad, Zahm Hall was constructed immediately north of Cavanaugh Hall in 1937. Since Maginnis and Walsh designed it to be a duplicate of Cavanaugh, Zahm also has a brick exterior with limestone trim and a slate roof. Even its beautiful sunken chapel was a replica of Cavanaugh's, and to this day it is graced by high windows, golden angels floating above the altar, and rich wood columns decorated with capitals of shields and flowers.

While North Quad provides an expansive front yard for both Zahm and Cavanaugh, the rear wings of these halls also form a much smaller and more intimate "backyard" quad with St. Edward's Hall and the Main Building. The pleasant lawn between Zahm and Cavanaugh leads westward toward the Main Building, and it has been landscaped with a variety of stately evergreens. One of the tallest shelters a simple statue of Our Lady, whose pious presence not only bridges the two halls, but also quietly foreshadows the far more glorious Lady who stands beyond the trees atop the Golden Dome.

Zahm Hall memorializes Rev. John Zahm, C.S.C., the illustrious, Ohio born priest-scientist whom Louis Pasteur called gentle scholar from across the seas.Ē After graduating from Notre Dame in 1871, Zahm was ordained in the Congregation of Holy Cross, then returned to his alma mater to teach physics, chemistry, and natural science. His brilliant mastery of the sciences and flair as a lecturer made Zahm something of a campus legend, and he wrote numerous books on topics that ranged from acoustics to the theory of evolution's compatibility with Christianity. Zahm served as both the head of  Notre Dame's science department and vice president of the university. In the late 1890s, he represented the Congregation of Holy Cross in Rome, where Pope Leo XIII awarded him a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Returning to Notre Dame in 1898, he was elected provincial superior of his order.

Zahm thought Notre Dame should be the nationís formost Catholic university, and he was a ring leader among the late nineteenth-century progressives who wanted to transform it from a prep school into a first-rate educational institution, especially in the fields of science and technology. Zahm zealously campaigned for higher academic standards, a more advanced curriculum, greatly expanded research efforts and up-to-date facilities. He spearheaded construction of new science and engineering buildings, acquired extensive natural history collections, expanded the library, brought steam heat to the campus, advocated private rooms in the dorms, and even had a special railroad car built just to transport students from western states between their homes and Notre Dame. In the 1880s, Zahm also made Notre Dame one of the first colleges anywhere to have electric lighting when he began installing arc lights outdoors and incandescent lamps inside several buildings.

Unfortunately for him, Zahm's ambitions were thwarted by Father Andrew Morrissey and the congregation's status quo camp. He was forced to relinquish the position of provincial in 1906, the same year that John W. Cavanaugh took office as Notre Dame's eighth president. While Cavanaugh would tread lightly toward the future, Zahm had always believed the university couldn't get there fast enough. What a wonderfully fitting coincidence it is, therefore, that Cavanaugh and Zahm halls were constructed side-by-side, the former being named for the agreeable president who kept a sentimental eye on what Notre Dame had been, and the latter for the intellectual provincial who possessed the great vision of what Notre Dame would become.

Today, Zahm Hall frequently sports a bold "Z" on its North Quad facade and has a reputation as one of the most spirited and tight-knit men's dormitories on campus. "Zahmbies," as its residents like to be called, exhibit enormous esprit de corps, and "Zahm bashing," as the act of insulting the dorm is called, is common practice I among those who appreciate neither their comradeship nor social events such as Z.I.T.S. (the Zahm Invitational Talent Show). Zahmís budding rivalry with neighboring Keenan Hall has sparked barbs between the dorms as well as plenty of pranks. In one episode all of Zahmís shower heads disappeared. Zahmbies, however, became notorious because of Odin, the very public initiation ritual they stage on the weekend of the first home football game. The hallís freshmen dress up I bed sheet togas and then parade through the reflecting pool at Hesburgh Library.




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