Evensong week…

It’s graduation week at Eastern Oregon University, so of course that means it’s Evensong week for Friends of the Grand Staircase…

Day one: The Queen of Knowledge and her court in Grecian gowns – 1967.

Day two: Rehearsal -1968

Day three: The Audience 1954 or ’55 – sitting on wooden chairs, folding metal chairs, and lawn chairs on a closed off 9th Street.

Day four: The Queen and her court descend the Grand Staircase to the middle landing where they will preside over Evensong – (1970 Queen Karen Ceniga escorted by senior class president Clinton Shultz who is also helping with the Torch of Knowledge).

Day five: As dusk falls the pageant of song begins – 1956

Day six: As the program ends, the graduates light their candles from the Queen’s Torch of Knowledge and go out into the world to share the “light of learning.” (1952)

Day seven: Last Evensong Queen Suzanne Bunker – 1971


First six photos courtesy EOU Pierce Library.  Last photo 1971 Mountaineer.


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 2015, the Grand Staircase was added to Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List. In November of that year 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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