“It was not like that in the olden days, in the days beyond recall,
When everybody got ducked that lived in Sorin Hall.”
[1906 Dome yearbook]
In the latter part of the 19th century, enrollment at Notre Dame continued to swell. Sorin Hall was built in 1889 and expanded in 1897 to accommodate the collegiate students whose population was outgrowing the living space in Main Building. Sorin Hall was Notre Dame’s first dormitory building to offer private quarters, and a certain level of freedom, for the collegiate students. However, Sorin’s famous porch was not added until 1905. The need for the porch went beyond pure architectural aesthetics. It was built as a deterrent of student pranks.
Sorin Hall exterior, c1890s
Pranks are inevitable in a close-knit setting among college students. In the early 1900s, students would amuse themselves by throwing water out of upper-level windows of Sorin Hall, much to the chagrin of passers-by entering the dorm. The final straw was when the beloved “Colonel” William Hoynes, dean of the Law School and Sorin Hall professor-in-residence, supposedly fell victim to this popular prank. Immediately thereafter, construction of a porch began on the eastern facade of Sorin Hall to protect visitors from an unexpected deluge of water. The porch was completed in April 1905.
Sorin Hall residents posed on the front steps of Sorin Hall, c1890s.
“Colonel” William Hoynes is in the center with a top hat.
The water pranks did not completely cease with this addition, as students could crawl out on top of the flat-roofed porch. However, the pranksters had to be slier as they were more exposed to getting caught. Stories of the Hoynes incident lived on in the inaugural 1906 Dome yearbook and for a few years there after. As a happy accident, this stately porch has become a significant part of Sorin Hall’s identity as a place to gather and as a stage for concerts, speeches, and the annual talent show. Even Colonel Hoynes himself, who had a flare for the theatrical, often entertained alumni and visitors on the very porch that might not exist if it weren’t for a fateful prank.
Sorin Hall exterior with an American flag and blue banner on the porch that reads “God, Country, Notre Dame,” August 2002