Staircase memories…

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


7 thoughts on “Staircase memories…

  1. I was planning to make a donation the renovation project in the name of Melba Freleigh. I thought that she was Evensong Queen in either 1949 or 1950. I would like to find photo of Queen Melba and her court; I was her escort.

    • What a kind and wonderful thing to do. I did a cursory check of the Pierce Library archives and did not find a picture of Queen Melba. I will do some more searching and let you know if I find anything. Thank you!

      • Hi, Thanks for your efforts. Strange! The 1949 and 1950 Evensong Courts do not show Melba. But, I do remember the beautiful ceremony and escorting Melba.

        Thanks again for your efforts


    • I did find a Catherine Fridley who was on the Evensong court in 1943. Could that be Melba with a different spelling of the last name? Unfortunately, still no picture.

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