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Now & Then: Legends & the ‘Senior Bar’

Marissa Frobes | Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Every current Domer has undoubtedly stepped into Legends of Notre Dame at least once. Whether you’ve attended the infamous “Hip Hop Night” at the Night Club, sat down for dinner with a visiting family member or listened to a student band play on the weekend, you’ve experienced the venue in one of its many forms.

But Legends has expanded immensely throughout the years. Until 1982, there was just a house where Legends currently sits. With a sign emblazoned “ND Alumni-Senior Club,” the house was affectionately nicknamed the “Senior Bar.”

This structure was torn down in the summer of ’82 and replaced with a building that has since been drastically modified into Legends. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was still a Senior Bar that was exclusively meant to entertain of-age seniors and alumni.

In the eras when the Senior Bar stood as a house and the aforementioned building, it was run completely by students. Customers were charged only to cover the cost of expenses, and students assumed the roles of managing, bartending, renovating and maintaining cleanliness. It was open Wednesday through Saturday nights, and offered drink specials to seniors. Often, the Bar sold passes to students and alumni at an affordable lump sum for repeated admission. 

The Senior Bar closed after the 2002 football season for renovations. It reopened in fall of 2003 with a new moniker, Legends of Notre Dame, and a new role as restaurant, pub and nightclub, plus about 50 percent more square footage. The University now owns and operates the venue, and all profit goes towards “positive social programming for Notre Dame students,” according to the Legends website.

Legends maintains the same role as the Senior Bar in regard to its purpose on game day — many alumni still gather for drinks and food at the venue on football Saturdays. But it has lost much of its exclusivity. According to “The Dome” of 1982, “for three years, underclassmen eagerly await[ed] admittance to the Senior-Alumni Club.” Now, Legends attracts a younger crowd, especially on weekends where it offers safe, on-campus activities at the Night Club. Additionally, Legends is open to the public, not just Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross College students.

A group of alumni in 2007 sought to resurrect the Senior Bar, posting a Facebook page that expressed a need for investors. Citing the former K’s Grill on South Bend Avenue as a possible location, the project obviously has yet to come to fruition.

Though the idea of a student-run bar right on campus for seniors and alumni does sound fun, Legends of Notre Dame adds a lot to our campus. Host to a variety of musical acts and other events, it entertains several underclassmen safely each weekend. And if you’re 21, you can still enjoy one of their 24 draft beers at the Pub, but you just might not know everyone surrounding you, as would have been the case at the Senior Bar of old. Maybe the Facebook project “Re-Opening the Senior Bar” will reactivate and we can have the best of both worlds here in South Bend. 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Marissa Frobes at mfrobes@nd.edu