Notre Dame, South Bend Chocolate Company and Oliver Mansion

6/14/13 Friday at Buchanan, MI (Bear Cave Resort-TT/Mid Atlantic)

Busy day. We started by arriving at the Book sale and the library by 9 am. We found 3 books (not by the authors we were looking for), then left at 9:25 for South Bend and Notre Dame. I found the POI in our GPS for Notre Dame as John was driving, so we had that to rely on, but how do you know it’ll get you to the right spot on such a large campus? I knew the tours started at Eck Visitor Center. As we approached, we saw signs for Notre Dame, SD. John’s really concerned – is the GPS taking us to some city called Notre Dame and not the University? Later, on the tour, we learned that the University is also the city of Notre Dame! Fortunately, as we drew near to the GPS goal, we saw signs for Eck Visitor Center. Sweating bullets, because the tour starts at 10 am and it’s now 9:50 am, we arrive and park. When we try to check in they explain that the tour is free, to just wait in the building. Then we saw our neighbors (Bob & Kathie). We’d planned to enjoy this and the Chocolate Company together today – so much more fun.

The University began in November,1842, when a 28 year old French priest and 8 Holy Cross brothers took possession of 524 acres of snow covered land. He named it University of Our Lady of the Lake (there are actually 2 lakes, but the snow made them seem to be one).  In French it’s Notre Dame Du Lac.  It was not a University as we understand the term – just religious school, grade schools and a manual labor school.

IMG_9806 IMG_9811 IMG_9813Fr. Hesburgh went to school here, getting a bachelor’s degree in 1939. He went on, at 35, to become its 15th President in June of 1952. When he retired in 1987, his signature was on the degrees of 4 out of 5 living Notre Dame graduates. He received more Presidential Medals of Freedom than anyone (I think – something like 13). Fr. Hesburgh is said to have more honorary degrees than any other person. After retirement, he and Fr. Edmund Joyce took off in an RV to tour the western national parks and forests!

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Ryan Hall – newest dormitory (West quad is the newest built area)

Stained glass window in dormitory chapel. Every dormitory has a chapel. Men and women are in separate dormitories. There are no fraternities or sororities, so the dormitories act as social focus areas, with good natured rivalries among them.


Our tour guide, Michael (student) walks backward the entire time he leads and talks to us, going from one building to the next. As we were walking, John noticed how this little girl had her hands behind her back, as did our friend Bob, to her left. Kathie is just ahead of Bob.


In the Coleman Family Center for Campus Ministry, there is a granite ball, spinning on a stream of water. Michael invited a young girl to push it. Everyone’s favorite feature. All students can access free tutoring here. Student Athletes receive theirs in a special room.

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Though hard to see through the trees, this is the first building, the original college, then many other titles. Now it houses the Seminary for those studying to become priests.

Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Very prayerful place.

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Basilica of the Sacred Heart. View from the Altar.

View to the back, of the huge pipe organ (someone in a green shirt was testing it when we were there).

Stained glass window all came from France.

Paintings all by a famous painter (forgot name-Giotto?).

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A sculpture similar to Michaelangelo’s Pieta.

View of the altar towards the opposite end of the church from the organ.

More views of that end of the church.

A close up of Our Lady, who is in the previous  photo.

IMG_9892Main building, with the statue of the Blessed Mother standing atop the Golden Dome. Facing the Golden Dome, with arms outstretched (“Touchdown Jesus” per the students) is the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue.

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IMG_9900“Stonehenge” per the students is a fountain commemorating those who fought in the Vietnam war. The students often gather here to celebrate occasions like winning games. It’s currently undergoing renovation.

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Theodore M Hesburgh Library with reflecting pool.

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The sports staduim, which has been enlarged to hold over 80,000 people. Each gate entrance is named, this one for Knute Rockne, a well known coach. Michael asked if we could walk down the tunnel where the athletes walk, but the answer was no.

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The Snite Museum of Art

Fitzpatrick Hall of Engineering (First Catholic College of Engineering in 1973)

Law School (First Catholic Law School in 1869)

Whew! Time for a picnic lunch just outside the Eck Visitor Center, then off to South Bend Chocolate Company.

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We all had to wear hair nets. Isn’t John cute? Many Greeks started candy stores in the South Bend area. They don’t make the chocolate from the cacao (ka KOW) bean, like Hershey’s and M&M do. Once they purchase it the creamy chocolate base, they then make the chocolates we all love.

Making chocolate toffee candies.

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Hand rolling malted milk balls. She tears a piece off, throwing it onto the scale. When several are ready, she rolls them into balls.

Chris, our tour guide, shows us the various molds they use. The plastic one he’s holding is the current type – held together, then pulled apart by magnets. The metal molds below are antiques.

There is a free tour, but we paid for the “Inside Scoop” ($4/adult), thus getting to make a chocolate covered spoon, watch a movie and get a free chocolate bar. Plus 10% off our purchases that day. We had to dash off before our tour was over to make the 2 pm tour at Oliver Mansion, but we ended up spending $25 on chocolates when we got back. MM MM good.

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We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, so here are views from the outside. This was a newer mansion than the plantation ones we saw before, built in the late 1800’s. Mr. Oliver invented the Chilled Plow (iron that was chilled quickly in a stream of cold water, making it stronger than ordinary cast iron), then expanded his business to include a hydroelectric plant that made electricity. Thus he built the home prepared for electricity. We were also fortunate to listen to a lady play the Steinway piano as we toured. All original furnishings, since only the Oliver family lived there until Gertrude died, when the family gave this mansion (plus another home) to the Museum.

Carriage house (for horses, then later automobiles)

IMG_9953 Oliver Mansion grounds IMG_9955 IMG_9960


Polish worker’s home. Reminded us of Elvis’ first home (in Tupelo, MS)

Such a busy day. We made it home for a fish dinner, then a long game of UNO. Kathie won this time. Poor John was at the bottom the whole game.


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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2 Responses to Notre Dame, South Bend Chocolate Company and Oliver Mansion

  1. Sherry says:

    I am just reading random posts but I love how much you are doing on your travels. You seem to be really trying to fill your time with activities and I appreciate the wonderful pictures. Hope the rain stays away for awhile.

    • tjelser says:

      Thanks, Sherry. You’ll find our life ebbs and flows. After activity days, we rest up. It’s like we’re on vacation (flow), then at home (ebb), when we need to manage things like cleaning. grocery shopping, laundry and rest.

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