Next steps…

Slow and steady

We want to thank each and every one of you who signed our letter to ODOT encouraging them to allocate Connect Oregon funds to reconstruction of the Grand Staircase.  The final decisions regarding how the funds will be distributed are being made this week.  Based on the prioritization done earlier this summer, it unfortunately appears that the staircase will not be one of the projects chosen this time around.

So what happens next?  Well, slow and steady wins the race.

Save the Grand Staircase, with help from Restore Oregon, will continue working with EOU to seek out private and public funding for the staircase restoration and, as needed, will continue providing volunteer grant and proposal writing support.  It is important to note that a guiding principle of the funding effort is to only seek funding that is not available to the university for other purposes.

Possible funding sources still include transportation funds (as the extension of a public sidewalk, the staircase is indeed a transportation project) as well as economic development/neighborhood revitalization funds, historic preservation funds and others.

Along with seeking funding, we will also be exploring ways in which the cultural heritage potential of the Grand Staircase can be fully realized, both prior to and after reconstruction.

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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 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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