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Notre Dame hotel to grow, go Gothic

SOUTH BEND – The University of Notre Dame’s landmark Morris Inn will be renovated and expanded in a $32 million project partially funded by a woman whose parents paid for its construction nearly 60 years ago.

The northern Indiana project will give the building finished in 1952 a Gothic look more closely matching the nearby law school and other campus buildings, according to school officials.

Plans are for the hotel’s south wing to be demolished and replaced, with a new 300-seat ballroom built on the north end. The completed project will see the hotel go from its current 92 guest rooms to nearly 140 rooms, the South Bend Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/usJp7o).

The work is expected to begin next summer, with most of the construction finished by fall 2013. The inn might be closed for part of the construction period.

A $15 million donation toward the project is coming from South Bend philanthropist Ernestine Raclin and her family. Her parents – Ernest and Ella Morris of South Bend – gave the $1 million gift that funded the hotel’s construction.

University officials have started looking in recent years at ways to modernize the school’s hotel service, including discussing whether to build a new hotel and conference center elsewhere on campus.

Raclin, a former member of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees, said she and university leaders couldn’t get excited about the idea of a new hotel at a different site.

“This is exactly what my parents would have wanted,” she said of the renovation and expansion plan.

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