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From the Archives: The Sorin Seven, then and now

and | Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Diane Park | The Observer

Editor’s Note: This is the second story in a two-part From the Archives series on the Sorin Seven. The first story was published on Monday, March 1.

In the last edition of From the Archives, our team uncovered the story of the Sorin Seven, a group of roommates — and owners of the third-floor “Doo Drop Inn” bar — banished from Sorin Hall by Dean of Students James Roemer in 1976. 

But the Archives team is always interested in legacy. While the University’s administration denounced the actions of the Sorin Seven, the group became legendary in the eyes of Sorin Hall residents. In October 1977, for example, an off-campus party was thrown in honor of the one-year anniversary of the Seven’s relocation.

“Ten keg party Thursday honoring the first anniversary of the Sorin Seven,” read one message in the Oct. 20, 1977 Classifieds section of The Observer. “… Do drop inn.” 

And although the story of the Sorin Seven is not well-known today — even within the walls of Sorin Hall — the group’s legacy continues to live on in smaller ways. For this week’s edition of From the Archives, our team dove even deeper into the stories of the Sorin Seven — documenting The Observer’s coverage of the group over the decades, as well as speaking personally with one member of the Seven.

Courtesy of Rich Hohman

Continuing the Seven’s story, 20 years later

Oct. 15, 1996 | Melanie Waters | Researched by Sarah Kikel

Following the initial news of the Sorin Seven’s exile, The Observer’s coverage of the roommates’ experience came to a grinding halt. The average Notre Dame student — aside from those personally connected to the Seven — knew nothing of the story’s conclusion.

But on Oct. 15, 1996, The Observer completed the chronicle of the Seven. Assistant Accent Editor Melanie Waters wrote an investigative piece in honor of the 20-year anniversary of their departure, filling in the narrative’s holes and recounting the Seven’s experiences after their fateful relocation.

Once relocated off campus, Waters noted, the Sorin Seven sent Dean Roemer a retaliatory letter, notifying him that he was explicitly uninvited to their new residence at 1034 N. Eddy St.

“You are formally advised that you are hereby removed from the 1034 Club permanently, effective as of now,” the notice read, mimicking the eviction notices the Seven received from Roemer the prior month. “Your name has also been scratched from the Sorin Seven Fan Club.”

Their notice continued by alerting Roemer he was prohibited from entering the premises for the rest of the Seven’s undergraduate years. They concluded their letter with threats that the Seven would invoke “immediate disciplinary action” if Roemer was found “in or around this house.”

Courtesy of Rich Hohman

During the following spring semester, the Sorin Seven appealed for permission to visit friends inside of Sorin Hall. Roemer denied their plea, informing the evicted students that they were “not to be allowed on or about the premises at Sorin Hall, including the porch and including the inside of the building in any location.”

Frustrated by the news, but not willing to let Roemer get the final word, the pranksters sent another response to Roemer’s office.

“You are not to be allowed on or about the premises of 1034 N. Eddy St. including the porch, front and back yards, and including the inside of this building in any location,” they wrote.

Though they were disgruntled by these disciplinary consequences, moving off campus never hindered the Sorin Seven and their guests from celebrating good parties at the Doo Drop Inn. Their Tuesday-night housewarming party — featuring 10 kegs — was advertised as occurring at the Sorin Seven “Castle,” and explicitly prohibited not only Roemer, but also Sorin Hall’s resident assistants and rector from attending.

‘We had some fun back then’: 45 years later, Sorin Seven member Rich Hohman reflects on experience

By Evan McKenna

Naturally, as members of the Sorin Seven graduated, and as the 1970s came to a close, the group’s legacy came to be known only by a select few. After the 1996 recap of the men’s story, The Observer’s coverage of the Seven came to yet another standstill.

But still, some questions were left unanswered, and the post-graduate lives of the Seven remained largely unknown. In hopes of uncovering a more personal side of the story, The Observer’s From the Archives team reached out to Notre Dame graduate and Sorin Seven member Rich Hohman (‘78) — and for the first time in nearly 25 years, Hohman reflected on the experience of the group’s exile, spoke of his ongoing relationship with other members of the Seven and even offered current students a hopeful perspective.

Evan McKenna | The Observer

First, Hohman reflected on the genesis of the Sorin Seven and the Doo Drop Inn — both of which, unsurprisingly, found their origin in rebellion. He recalled a story from the men’s freshman year, in which a fellow Sorin resident — a senior offensive lineman on the football team — was kicked out of the hall after his girlfriend fell asleep in his room and broke parietals.

“We kind of had a bit of rebellion at that point in time,” Hohman said. “We thought it was unfair, and we started doing fun stuff in Sorin trying to make up for his troubles — pulling pranks on RAs, filling up trash cans full of water and leaning them up against somebody’s door — just crazy, stupid things like that.” 

Then Hohman recounted the story of how the group found themselves in Sorin Hall’s third-floor “turret room” — what would soon become the infamous Doo Drop Inn.

“Junior year, we decided that seven of us were going to get together to get a four-room suite,” he said. “We put seven beds and seven desks into the far two rooms, and then took two rooms and built a huge bar. We put paneling up, carpeting, we had cocktail tables in the room — we pretty much said, ‘Hey, we’re going to open this up as a fun room.’” 

Hohman also revealed the little-known namesake of the group’s bar.

“The Doo Drop Inn’ was a reference to a Charlie Daniels song called ‘Uneasy Rider,’” he said, noting the lyrics’ fictitious “Dew Drop Inn” bar which served as inspiration for their own. “And we had a big sign made up — I think you can see it in one of the pictures … from after we got kicked off. We were hanging it up in one of our houses.” 

Courtesy of Rich Hohman

And, of course, Hohman discussed the events of Oct. 28, 1976 — when the Doo Drop Inn was forced to close its doors, and when the Sorin Seven were forced to find a new home in three days’ time.

“We all went down to the bars and got completely trashed Thursday night, and wasted that day — then we took two days to move out of the dorm,” Hohman said. “But six weeks after the semester started, there weren’t too many good houses left to rent in South Bend.” 

That’s how the men found themselves at 1034 N. Eddy St.

“We ended up finding a house. It was terrible. I mean, it was absolutely the worst house … but it was the only house we can rent,” Hohman said. “So we moved in there and caught a bunch of mice — the first week we were in there, mouse traps were going off all night.” 

But nothing could stop the Seven from enjoying themselves — even the run-down, rodent-infested house would nevertheless become the setting for countless unforgettable memories.

“We had a big housewarming party the first weekend we were there — 10 kegs. We were just having fun,” Hohman said. “We were all thankful we didn’t get kicked out of school. We thought it was an overreaction that we got kicked out of the dorm without any warning or any major discussion, but it turned out okay.” 

Courtesy of Rich Hohman

But throughout our discussion of Hohman’s past, it was impossible to ignore the realities of the present. If the Sorin Seven were students today, in the age of COVID-19, the vast majority of their experiences — both the good and the bad — very well might have never occurred.

Hohman acknowledged the glaring deficiencies of current campus life, expressing his hope that the Notre Dame experience could soon return to normal.

“I feel so badly for everybody that’s going through this: the alienation, being away from large groups of people and just having fun with your friends,” Hohman said. “There wasn’t anything better than a Friday night: going out to a party, listening to great music and meeting some great people … and when you guys miss that now — the relationships and the camaraderie — I feel really bad. I hope this gets over quickly for you guys.” 

But Hohman believes the connected and compassionate spirit of Notre Dame will continue to help the student body persevere through difficult times. He recalled a 1996 Sorin Seven reunion on campus, when the current residents of Sorin Hall’s room 315 — formerly the Doo Drop Inn — welcomed the group into their old home with open arms.

“After we graduated, any time we were on campus, we would drop by 315. We would tell them stories about when we were there, the Sorin Seven and the Doo Drop Inn,” Hohman said. “Whether we were 20 years out of school, or 40 years, or going on 50, we could walk in that room and tell the guys we lived there 50 years ago — and it’s like you just immediately connect. I think that spirit is always there when you meet Notre Dame students anywhere you go in the world.”

And the Sorin Seven’s relationship is proof of the so-called “Notre Dame connection” — Hohman and his former roommates are still in contact to this day.

“Whenever we get back together, we just sit there and tell stories about the things we did. And even recently, I’ve been back on texting back and forth with a couple of guys, just telling stories,” he said. “It’s still a great group of friends that just remember those days of being together and the camaraderie that we had, being Notre Dame students. I hope you guys can get back to that soon.”

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About Evan McKenna

Evan is a junior at Notre Dame from Morristown, Tennessee majoring in psychology and English with a concentration in creative writing. He is currently serving as the Managing Editor of The Observer, and believes in the immutable power of a well-placed em dash. Reach him at [email protected] or @evanjmckenna on Twitter.

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About Sarah Kikel

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