Homecoming!

It’s Homecoming weekend at EOU!!!  For many alumni returning for the festivities the Grand Staircase is, no doubt, a part of their cherished college memories.

Welcome home.  Go Mountaineers!

The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction.

We believe that the Grand Staircase has great potential as a cultural heritage tourism attraction and, as a result, could help boost the economy of La Grande and eastern Oregon.  Even now, deteriorating and no longer opened to the public, it is an architectural treasure worth seeing.  Reconstructed it could offer even more.

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, provide updates on the efforts to save our beloved “college steps” and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

 

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Just a guy, a lawnmower and the Grand Staircase…

We’ve always liked this “picture postcard” of the Grand Staircase but until recently hadn’t noticed the guy leading against the tree.  And, is that a push lawnmower on the other side? Wouldn’t you like to know who he was and if he knew he was in the picture?

Photo courtesy EOU Pierce Library.

The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction.

We believe that the Grand Staircase has great potential as a cultural heritage tourism attraction and, as a result, could help boost the economy of La Grande and eastern Oregon.  Even now, deteriorating and no longer opened to the public, it is an architectural treasure worth seeing.  Reconstructed it could offer even more.

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, provide updates on the efforts to save our beloved “college steps” and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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At the top of the staircase…

We love this April 1977 photo of a woodwind quartet on the View Terrace at the top of the Grand Staircase.  As always, the decorative balustrade makes a perfect backdrop.

Photo courtesy EOU Pierce Library – from left to right Molly Deatherage (french horn), Cherlyne Healy (flute), Pamela Jerrett (oboe), Donna Groth (bassoon) and Robert [Bob] Klak (clarinet).

 

The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction.

We believe that the Grand Staircase has great potential as a cultural heritage tourism attraction and, as a result, could help boost the economy of La Grande and eastern Oregon.  Even now, deteriorating and no longer opened to the public, it is an architectural treasure worth seeing.  Reconstructed it could offer even more.

 

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, provide updates on the efforts to save our beloved “college steps” and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

 

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What year were these taken?

We were recently reading about photo dating services – companies that, for a price, will determine the timeframe in which a picture was taken.  They look at everything from clothing to hairstyles to sports equipment to signs to cars.

The three photos of the Grand Staircase below are courtesy of the EOU Pierce Library.  Based on the automobiles parked in front of the staircase and the dresses and hairdos of the female students on the steps, can you guess when these pictures were taken?  Hint: Most college students don’t have a brand new car.

The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction.

We believe that the Grand Staircase has great potential as a cultural heritage tourism attraction and, as a result, could help boost the economy of La Grande and eastern Oregon.  Even now, deteriorating and no longer opened to the public, it is an architectural treasure worth seeing.  Reconstructed it could offer even more.

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, provide updates on the efforts to save our beloved “college steps” and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

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It’s fun to imagine…

Over the decades there have been, no doubt, any number of dignitaries and famous people who have made their way to eastern Oregon and visited La Grande with some eventually ending up at Eastern Oregon University.  How many of them then saw the Grand Staircase?  How many marveled at its beauty?  How many wrote home about it?

When Pillars of the Sky was being filmed in La Grande in the mid-50’s did Jeff Chandler or Ward Bond find themselves thinking that no Hollywood set could surpass the grandeur of our beloved college steps?

Jeff Chandler and Ward Bond

When then Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy came to La Grande on 9 Nov, 1959 (just two months before announcing his candidacy for president) did he and Jackie (who accompanied him) see the Grand Staircase when he was speaking at the college? Was it covered in snow?  Did Jackie fall in love with it and ask to have her picture taken on the View Terrace, a gloved hand gracing a balustrade?

Jackie Kennedy

When then Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy came to La Grande on 9 Nov, 1959 (just two months before announcing his candidacy for president) did he and Jackie (who accompanied him) see the Grand Staircase when he was speaking at the college? Was it covered in snow?  Did Jackie fall in love with it and ask to have her picture taken on the View Terrace, a gloved hand gracing a balustrade?

Who else came and saw and remembered?  It’s fun to imagine.

The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction.

We believe that the Grand Staircase has great potential as a cultural heritage tourism attraction and, as a result, could help boost the economy of La Grande and eastern Oregon.  Even now, deteriorating and no longer opened to the public, it is an architectural treasure worth seeing.  Reconstructed it could offer even more.

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, provide updates on the efforts to save our beloved “college steps” and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

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Staircase snowman

The Grand Staircase has sparked the imagination of generations as demonstrated by this snowman found reclining on one of the balustrades in 1984.

Photo courtesy of EOU Pierce Library

The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction.

We believe that the Grand Staircase has great potential as a cultural heritage tourism attraction and, as a result, could help boost the economy of La Grande and eastern Oregon.  Even now, deteriorating and no longer opened to the public, it is an architectural treasure worth seeing.  Reconstructed it could offer even more.

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, provide updates on the efforts to save our beloved “college steps” and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

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Finding 40 plus different ways to describe Evensong…

In our last post we wrote about the origins of the beloved commencement week ceremony of Evensong which took place on EOU’s Grand Staircase every year for over four decades.

And somehow, The Observer (La Grande’s newspaper) found some 40 plus new and different ways to describe the event.

Here are two of our very favorites…

Evensong description 1

1970

1970 – Photo courtesy EOU Pierce Library

Evensong description 2

1970 2

1970 – Photo courtesy EOU Pierce Library

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The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction.

 

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

 

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Sit and ponder, rest and dream, visit with me in between

We recently came across some photos of the Grand Staircase that we hadn’t seen before.  This one (courtesy of the EOU Pierce Library) was taken in 1986 and shows Tina (left) and Jeff (right) conversing while sitting on the top railing of the staircase.

With a panoramic view of the Grande Ronde Valley in front of them and the hallowed halls of Inlow behind them, what do you think they were talking about?

Sit and ponder

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The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction.

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

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Every cat needs a staircase and every staircase needs a cat…

One of our favorite things is hearing the stories and memories of those who love the Grand Staircase as much as we do.

Recently, someone wrote…

“I used to walk by this (the Grand Staircase) to high school every day and there was a Siamese/Tabby mix that would sit on the post and greet you. First Siamese Tabby mix I had ever seen. He was so pretty!”

Of course the first thing we did was Google Siamese Tabby mix and we agree – they’re very pretty!

And, can’t you just imagine a cat perched atop one of the concrete pier caps at the bottom of the steps – the sphinx of EOU?  What a lucky cat!

cat

concrete pier cap

Does anyone else remember this Siamese Tabby? Do you know what his/her name was?  Do you know of other Grand Staircase cats?  We’d love to hear from you!

 

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The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

 

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The Amazing Appearing and Disappearing Tree…

When “Courthouse Hill” was chosen in 1927 as the site of the new Eastern Oregon Normal School, the City of La Grande went about doing the necessary grading on top of the hill to make the property conform to the plan of the architect and covering the exposed gravel with good soil suitable for propagation of lawns and growth.

So, when the Grand Staircase was completed in 1929, the hillside on which it sits was a blank canvas, ready for landscaping.

Nearly completed EOU Pierce Library

Newly completed – 1929

It was when researching what happened next that we discovered The Amazing Appearing and Disappearing Tree.

NOW YOU SEE IT…

Appearing

Early 1930’s

NOW YOU DON’T…

Disappearing

1934

Although there were several other fir trees that had also appeared as a part of the landscaping around the staircase, the one that we deemed “amazing” was the one directly in front.  It was so large that were it not for the fact that the picture was taken in June (at Evensong), one might have thought that it had been brought in for Christmas and was anchored in some sort of stand.   Planting (or rather transplanting) one that size seems like a daunting job.

Which, is possibly why all the trees were gone by 1934.  A good landscaping idea gone bad?

Based on photographic evidence, it appears that it was sometime in the 1960’s that fir trees did once again become part of the picture – taking their place on either side of the staircase.

1967 EOU Pierce Library

1967

But, The Amazing Appearing and Disappearing Tree was never seen again.

All photos in this post are courtesy of EOU Pierce Library

 

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The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

In November of 2014 it was chosen for inclusion on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page that same month.  Our intent is to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.

 

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