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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 (

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.