The perfect place for a coronation…

Next week (October 20 – 22) is Homecoming at Eastern Oregon University.  Go Mountaineers!

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In last year’s Homecoming post we shared photos of the homecoming courts of 1949 and 1951 posing on the Grand Staircase.  What we didn’t know is that (at least in 1948 and perhaps in other years) the Homecoming Queen was actually crowned on the staircase in what the La Grande Observer photo caption below describes as an “elaborate ceremony”.

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La Grande Observer 6 Nov, 1948

The staircase has often been described as a magical place – the imaginary castle of generations of little girls who played there and the perfect setting for both Evensong and Homecoming queens and their courts.

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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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