Planning for the Morris Inn began under the administration of the Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, Notre Dame’s president from 1946 to 1952. It opened in 1952, the year the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh began his 35-year tenure as Notre Dame’s president.
Upon making his gift, Ernest Raclin said he envisioned the future inn as Notre Dame’s “window on the world.” He died in 1951, before the hotel was completed.
The couple considered their gift a gesture of appreciation for the education Ernest Morris had received at Notre Dame. He served as a member and chair of the university’s associate board of lay trustees and played a prominent role in fundraising campaigns for the university.
Both Ernestine Raclin and her late husband, O.C. “Mike” Carmichael Jr., also chaired Notre Dame capital campaigns.
Ernestine Raclin said she attends dinners or events at the hotel about once a week, and always looks forward to her visits there. “It has a homey feel,” she said, a characteristic she expects the expanded facility will retain.
Staff writer Margaret Fosmoe: