The Grand Staircase and the Spanish Steps

On more than one occasion architectural historians have compared EOU’s Grand Staircase to the Spanish Steps in Rome.  You know, THOSE Spanish Steps – the ones that caught America’s eye in the 1953 movie Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

With just 30 some more steps than our Grand Staircase, the staircase in Rome is a mix of curves, straight flights, vistas, and terraces that blend with the surrounding architecture.  Sound familiar?

Spanish Steps

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on the Spanish Steps

The unique design and elegance of the Spanish Steps have long made it a popular place for artists, painters, and poets.  Tourists and others use it as a designated meeting places and it is one of Rome’s most popular places to gather – a place to sit, chat, rest and dream.  In addition, the steps have continued to make appearances in film, TV and song.

La Grande and Rome are worlds apart, yet both boast elegant monumental exterior staircases.  Comparing La Grande’s Grand Staircase to Rome’s iconic Spanish Steps illustrates how truly significant the Grand Staircase is and gives a hint at its hidden potential.

Note: The Spanish Steps have needed to be restored many times over the years.

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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 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, 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


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