When Eastern Oregon University (then Eastern Oregon Normal School) officially opened its doors in June 1929, 200 men and women signed up for classes. In the process they no doubt spent some time pouring over the 1929 – 30 EONS catalog.
In the page from the catalog shown above (image courtesy of EOU Pierce Library) English professors Amanda Zabel and Lena Foley stand in front of a sweep of Grand Staircase balusters.
Note: Eastern Oregon University’s Zabel Hall, home to the College of Education and the College of Business (built in 1974), was named for Professor Zabel. Dr. Zabel, who taught both English and Drama, was a beloved teacher and an active participant in the annual Evensong production on the staircase each spring.
Fall classes at EOU begin in just a week and a half (September 26th). Everyone have a great term!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.