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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That’s a lot…

Did you know that the Grand Staircase is made up of 17,470 SF of concrete?

Some of the Grand Staircase components were cast or poured in place from concrete that was brought to the site in an unhardened state (like ready-mix) and then put in forms. They include the steps, landings, balustrade piers and retaining walls.

Other components were made of cast stone.  These include the balusters, baluster caps and pier caps.  The original cast stone was created (using the dry tamp process) in two layers – an inner concrete core and a more refined outer finish. The core is cast around reinforcing steel. The finish is a rosy beige fine grain aggregate mixed with quartz. Individual units were tied to cast-in-place components and to each other with steel anchors, pins, and rods.

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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