The History of 4545 College Road

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The College

CampusThe Sisters of Notre Dame founded Notre Dame College in 1922 as a Catholic, four-year liberal arts institution for women.

The Sisters had fled their native Coesfeld, Germany, during Bismarck’s Kulturkampf in the 1870s. Many of them had come to Cleveland at the request of Bishop Richard Gilmour who had sought German-speaking teachers for the parish schools of St. Stephens in Cleveland and St. Joseph’s in Fremont, Ohio.

In 1877, the Sisters opened Notre Dame Academy in Cleveland. After several relocations, in 1915 a new provincial house and academy were built on Ansel Road. After 1920, boys were no longer enrolled. Soon, the girls and their families clamored for a college where they could continue their education under the Sisters of Notre Dame.

In April 1921, the Sisters in Cleveland sent a letter to Mother Mary Cecilia Romen in Germany, asking that "work of college grade" be offered in the fall of 1921. In response, the Mother General of the Sisters of Notre Dame decided to visit the Cleveland Diocese, where the Sisters now operated one academy, seven high schools and 25 parochial schools.

On March 26, 1922, Mother Mary Cecilia wrote a letter to Cleveland Bishop Joseph Schrembs asking for permission to open a college for women. Less than a month later, the bishop granted permission.Campus

Under the guidance of Mother Mary Cecilia, the College opened its doors at 1345 Ansel Road to 13 women and 11 novices on Sept. 18, 1922. The articles of incorporation for Notre Dame College were signed and filed with the State of Ohio on March 30, 1923.

Mother Mary Evarista Harks became the first president of NDC; Sr. Mary Agnes Bosche was appointed the first dean. A semester’s tuition was $75.

On June 15, 1925, NDC celebrated its first graduates of the two-year (certificate only) teacher training school: Kathleen Foster, Helen Maher, Josephine Ogrin, Estelle Weist and Kathryn Poelking. A year later, 14 students received their bachelor’s degrees and state certificates to teach in Ohio high schools. They were NDC’s first graduating class of four-year college degree students.

In June 1923, the Sisters leased 39 acres from the Jordan Family along Green Road in South Euclid to build a new campus. A year later, they purchased 15 more acres. They eventually bought the previously leased 39 acres in 1933.

Construction of the campus began in the fall of 1926. Two years later, on Sept. 17, 1928, 13 seniors, 16 juniors, 21 sophomores and 32 freshmen began classes in the new Administration Building on Green Road.

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The Administration Building

Admin BuildingOn Feb. 10, 1925, Sr. Mary Evarista Harks and Sr. Mary Odila Miller signed a contract to build a college in South Euclid with architect Thomas D. McLaughlin & Associates. The two Sisters were the only ones present when ground was broken for the new college on Oct. 31, 1926.

On June 5, 1927, the cornerstone for the Administration Building was laid by Cleveland Bishop Joseph Schrembs.

The following year, the east and north wings of the Administration Building were completed. The total cost of construction was about $1.3 million.

On Sept. 17, 1928, 13 seniors, 16 juniors, 21 sophomores and 32 freshmen began classes in the new building. About 3,000 guests, forced indoors by a storm, attended the official dedication of the College on the Green Road campus on Nov. 25, 1928.

On April 27, 1929, Sr. Mary Evarista Harks and Sr. Mary Odila Miller signed an agreement with McLaughlin Architects to abandon further work on the Administration Building. The College paid $16,000 for unused plans.

Admin BuildingThe west wing was not built until more than 30 years later, when contractor Stanley Roediger, in consultation with Thomas D. McLaughlin, completed the Administration Building on Sept. 18, 1961.

The building is in English Tudor Gothic style and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The fourth floor of the Administration Building, which today houses the faculty offices, used to be a residence area called Our Lady of Providence Hall. In a 2008 Notre Dame Today article, alumna Rose M. Wereb '54 remembered her time there.

"There were approximately 45 students living there," she said. "Three to four nuns lived there with us. This was our home and our family."

The students were not allowed to wear jeans and slacks beyond the fourth floor. To leave the floor, one had to roll up the pant legs and wear a long coat.

Providence Hall housed a chapel that is still there today.

"We were not required to attend daily Mass," Wereb said. "But you can be sure that mental attendance was taken each morning to see who was present."

Each morning in Providence Hall, a bell rang at 6:30 a.m. Mass was at 7 a.m. followed by breakfast. For Sunday Mass, the students were required to wear a cap and gown. They met in the room across from the chapel and entered in procession.

"There was no way of knowing how many of the girls at that Mass had their PJs rolled up under the gown with plans to head directly back to bed after Mass," Wereb said.

Dinner was a formal affair in Providence Hall. Table cloths and cloth napkins were set up for the family style dinners. Each table of six had two nuns and one representative from each class. Seating was determined by the table setters and you found your seat by looking for your napkin ring.

Passes for the evening were limited and time limits were strictly enforced. "One of the Sisters would be on duty at the door when you came in and there was no way of sneaking past her," Wereb remembered. "There was one Sister who was excellent at judging the time between the sight of the headlights entering the driveway and your appearance at the door. It better not be long!" 

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Regina Complex

ReginaIn 2011, Notre Dame College purchased the building that formerly housed Regina High School, which closed its doors in June 2010.

The building currently houses some classrooms as well as athletic and administrative offices. Short-term plans include expanding the number of classrooms and labs, accommodating faculty offices, and using the Regina gymnasium and auditorium for larger meetings and special events.

Longer-term plans for renovating and re-purposing the Regina property could take as long as five to seven years. The College will soon begin fundraising efforts to secure private money to help with updating the building.

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The Clara Fritzsche Library

LibraryThe library of Notre Dame College was originally housed in the Administration Building in what is now the College’s Admissions Office. Evidence of this can be seen in the dark oak shelves that still line its walls.

Groundbreaking for the Clara Fritzsche Library occurred on Oct. 24, 1969. The building was dedicated in August 1971. It is named after the mother of its principal benefactor, Paul Fritzsche, a one-time Notre Dame trustee and cookbook collector who donated the funds to build the new library.

When the new library was built, students led by Sr. Mary Leroy Finn formed a line from the old library to the new building and moved the books from one facility to the other in bucket brigade fashion.

LibraryThe library’s collection has steadily grown over the years and now consists of over 93,000 volumes. The first computer for reference use was installed in 1988.

In 1999, the Eastern Church Resource Center was dedicated, replacing the Baker Exhibit Room, which formerly housed the campus archives, now located on the ground floor of the Administration Building.

In 2002, a new computer room was created on the first floor of the library. Further construction on new classrooms, a state-of-the-art electronic classroom and the Academic Support Center began in the fall of 2004. The Falcon Café opened in October 2005 and the outdoor patio was added in 2007. In 2009, the Falcon Café is expanded and the Spirit Shop was added to sell NDC-themed items.  

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The Keller Center

Keller CenterBuilt in 1986-87, the Joseph H. Keller Center is an indoor recreational facility available to students, staff, faculty and the community. Its 2003 renovation added four varsity locker rooms, an athletic training room, office space and laundry facilities.

A renovated weight room for the student athletes was completed in the summer of 2009. Also located within the facility is the Mellen Pool, a 25-yard, six-lane pool used for competitive swim meets, open swimming and water aerobics. The Murphy Gymnasium is the home of the Falcons for volleyball, basketball and wrestling contests.

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The Connelly Center

ConnellyThe Connelly Center is home to Notre Dame College’s dining hall that was renovated in 2009, a student lounge and the Career Services Center.

Before Career Services moved in 2007, a coffee house named Joe Beans, previously known as Night Class, was located in the Connelly Center. It served snacks, sandwiches and assorted beverages. At a tiny bar tucked into the area, students drank beer before dinner every Friday afternoon, listened to spontaneous tunes from the jukebox or played foosball.

Night ClassThe serving of beer stopped in 1986 due to Ohio law and campus policy. Feelings ran strong both ways. The coffee house was staffed by students and was open into the evenings to accommodate commuters as well as night owls.

Up until 1980, the Joe Beans area housed “dating parlors,” tiny glassed rooms where the female students could meet their dates.

A 1982 Notre Dame News article recalled one particular story describing the ambience in the Connelly Center: “The week Night Class had scheduled a bikini-beach party, Sister Marthe was showing some of the Sisters on the Board of Trustees around Connelly Center. When she opened the door to Night Class, the first thing they saw was a huge sign proclaiming ‘Come As Bare As You Dare.’ Recovering quickly, one asked “What is this too-strict image we're supposed to have?”

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Petersen Hall

PetersenPetersen Hall is a single gender hall for incoming students. It opened in 1969 and was formerly named Alumnae Hall after the graduates of Notre Dame College.

In 2003, the board of trustees voted to rename the residence hall after Helen Foose Petersen '38, an alumna whose donation of over $1 million stands as the largest gift in the College's history.

Petersen Hall houses about 160 freshmen students. 

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Harks Hall

HarksCompleted in 1955, Harks Hall is named after Mother Mary Evarista Harks who was the first president and one of the founders of the College.

Harks is a single gender hall that occupies part of the first time student population.

It is equipped with a computer lab and two lounge areas for students to relax and unwind after a long day.

After returning to campus after many years, alumna Shelley Fergus Drabik ’87, in a 2008 Notre Dame Today article, remembered her time in Harks Hall:Harks

“I remembered when our entire floor gawked as our only math major carried in her long-awaited personal computer, the first owned by a resident. I remembered the decadence of spending a snow day watching brat pack videos in the lounge when one fellow resident brought in a VCR.

“Gone were the formal lounges where we took pictures before dances, kitchenettes where we heated tea kettles and cooked impromptu pasta dinners, and the extra bathroom down the hall where you could take a delightfully serene bubble bath. Gone were the pay phones continuously in use at the beginning of each term, until service was restored for the one rotary phone allotted to each suite.

“I wondered if Harks basement was still a lounge; it once had a pool table, vending machines, and the first television on campus to have cable. [...] Transformed was the sleepy expanse of undeveloped, skunk-tyrannized land on which stood only the residence halls complex, Administration Building, library, and a small tennis court. Instead, I saw a lively campus life that included sports fields, Keller Center, Starbucks, cell phones, IPods, microwaves, wireless, a quad, and men.”

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Providence Hall

Providence HallProvidence Hall was built in 1962 and used to house the Sisters of Notre Dame until 2004. 

However, the student population increased so much over the years that the space needed to be utilized for the students.

Providence Hall is a single gender hall that houses part of the first time student population.



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North Hall

North HallNorth Hall, an apartment-style residence hall , opened in January 2009. Facing north, and situated between Providence Hall and Harks Hall, North Hall offers upperclassmen 35 rooms, central air, an elevator, laundry room, and 24-hour visitation.

Constructed in similar style, color  and materials, it fits seamlessly between the other Tudor Gothic-style buildings.



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South Hall

South HallSouth Hall, the College's newest apartment-style residence hall , opened in August 2009.

It offers upperclassmen two-bedroom apartments and  amenities such as a fitness center, community lounge, central air, elevator, laundry rooms on every floor, and a game room.

South Hall has 104 rooms that are set up as two bedroom apartments with only four students sharing the entire apartment.

While obviously a contemporary building, it has the same Tudor Gothic influence and sandstone trim as other buildings on campus. The L-shaped building completes the southern end of the residence “quad,” similar to that  envisioned  by the original campus architect Thomas D. McLaughlin.

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Quinlivan Circle

Quinlivan CircleLocated on the south lawn in front of the Administration Building, the Legacy Walkway and Quinlivan Circle are constructed of engraved bricks honoring alumni, friends and the Notre Dame College community. It was completed and dedicated on Oct. 16, 2005.

Quinlivan Circle is named in memory of Dr. Frances M. Quinlivan, beloved professor emeritus of Notre Dame College, who taught at NDC from 1925 to 1970.

Dr. Quinlivan was known as a demanding teacher, whose deceptively simple questions unsettled and challenged students. She expected them to develop into independent thinkers who could spot shallow reasoning and defend their own beliefs. She died in 1998 at age 96.

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Campus Houses

Campus HouseNotre Dame College’s chaplain, Father Edward Mehok, lives in the grey campus house on Lawnway Road. Not many people know this, but the house was not always located there. It was originally built on Green Road on the present site of Regina Hall. It housed the College’s long-time maintenance director, Bernard Muhle, his wife Maria, daughter Johanna and son Al.

The Muhle family lived upstairs until 1946, when they moved downstairs. While the house was being moved from Green Road to Lawnway, the Muhle family lived on the third floor of the Art House on the original Ansel Road property. The moving of the house from Green Road to Lawnway was scheduled to take six weeks; it actually took six months.

In the 1930s there was only one house on Golfway--the gray house which is now the second one from the corner--and no houses on Lawnway or Maywood. That area was all woods and fields. Most of the houses were built in the 1940s and were called “war homes.”

The College also owns the brick house, the last one on the corner, which belongs to the former Regina High School complex. It houses the College's graduate assistants. 

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Athletic Fields

Athletic FieldNotre Dame’s athletic fields on Green Road today are frequented by football, lacrosse, baseball and softball players. But in the early days of the campus, these fields were home to a working farm with two horses (Bessie and Dick), a cow, three pigs, 1,000 chickens, a German Shepherd dog and a cat.

Every year, pigs and chickens were purchased in the spring and butchered in the fall. Maintenance Director Bernard Muhle killed the chickens and the Sisters plucked them for the annual chicken dinners held at Ansel Road. The chicken coop and the barn were marvelous play areas for the Muhle children.

OrchardThere were thousands of tomato plants, corn, beans, rhubarb and peas. In addition to a large apple orchard, which spread across what is the football practice field today, there were grape vines, currants, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and gooseberries, which the novices and postulants would pick.

Eventually the farm and the gardens disappeared in favor of the athletic field, which was dedicated during the College’s 20th anniversary year on Oct. 27, 1942. The apple orchard remained standing until 1986, when it was cut down because it had become too costly to maintain.

The softball field was dedicated during homecoming celebrations on April 24, 1998.

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Soccer Field

Soccer FieldPart of the lawn in front of the Administration Building has been used as a soccer practice field since 2009.

In the past, the lawn has been used for various activities including commencement ceremonies ( 1940s-50s), religious pageants, large-scale theatrical events, and band concerts.

For many decades, students would also practice archery on the front lawn.

In the 1930s, the Notre Dame News reported that “archery has virtually taken the College by storm and threatens to steal popularity honors from both basketball and golf.”

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May 26
4:30 PM
Saturday May 26, 4:30pm
Christ the King Chapel, 3rd Floor Admin Bldg.
E.g., 06/26/18
E.g., 06/26/18