Another sweet picture…

Some time back we posted a magical picture of the Grand Staircase, courtesy of Lawrence Hathaway.

Lawrence certainly knows how to capture everything we love about our college steps.  He took the photo below about 1995.

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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A thing of beauty is a joy forever…

We found this “sister” to our Grand Staircase on Pinterest, reposted from jellysundae.tumblr.com.  Don’t you just wonder what’s around the corner?

As with our staircase, the steps, balusters and balustrades are a little down on their luck – crumbling and in this case moss covered.   Yet, as with our staircase, the structure retains its architectural beauty and is surely still loved by many.

In the words of Keats, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

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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Tacoma’s Spanish Steps

We love learning about what we’ve come to call “sister steps” – other staircases that have the look and feel of our own beloved Grand Staircase.

Recently someone pointed us in the direction of the Spanish Steps in Tacoma, Washington.

You can see another photo here

The Tacoma steps, constructed concurrently in 1915 with the Elks Temple, are modeled after the Scalinata di Spagna (Spanish Steps) in Rome.  You might recall that our favorite architectural historian, Calder Loth, compared EOU’s Grand Staircase to those same steps in Rome.

The Spanish Steps in Tacoma were rehabilitated in 2011 with $910,000 in grant funding from WSDOT and Federal Highway Transportation Enhancements program.

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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It’s all in the details…

We often post photos of the Grand Staircase in its entirety – pictures that show the full grandeur of this architectural treasure.

Today, however, we chose the photo below to showcase some of the staircase’s architectural detail – the gentle curve of the baluster caps, the simple, but elegant design of a pier connecting two balustrade sections, the familiar design of the balusters (beautiful in their repetition), the cast-in-place retaining wall articulated by horizontal banding, and the rise and tread of the final steps leading up to the view terrace.

Note: the same baluster design on the window balconies of Inlow Hall.

1974 photo (courtesy EOU Pierce Library) of an unidentified young woman on the Grand Staircase

 

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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What year were these taken?

We were recently reading about photo dating services – companies that, for a price, will determine the timeframe in which a picture was taken.  They look at everything from clothing to hairstyles to sports equipment to signs to cars.

The three photos of the Grand Staircase below are courtesy of the EOU Pierce Library.  Based on the automobiles parked in front of the staircase and the dresses and hairdos of the female students on the steps, can you guess when these pictures were taken?  Hint: Most college students don’t have a brand new car.

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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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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An easy ascent and a gradual climb…

The Grand Staircase was open for public use for some 75 years.  We can only imagine the vast number of students, faculty members, townspeople, university employees, children on their way to J.H. Ackerman Elementary School, athletes, dignitaries and other visitors who climbed the steps during that time.

Did you know that when John V. Bennes designed the staircase he was thinking about each and every one of them?  The risers are five inches in height and the treads are from 15 to 20 inches deep. This low, broad tread provides an easy ascent and a gradual climb.

As one of the children who climbed the steps on their way to Ackerman and later took them two at a time so I wasn’t late to class at EOU, I can only say thank you!

Photo courtesy EOU Pierce Library

 

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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Tall Inlow Hall

One of the best definitions we’ve found for the word “staircase” is from a fictional account of the history of stairs where it is loosely defined as a method of going to “a tall place…” – perhaps not straight out of Webster’s, but poetic nonetheless.

As you can see from the Grand Staircase architectural drawing below (courtesy of Hennebery Eddy Architects), from street level (at the intersection of 9th and “L”) the staircase at EOU climbs 37 feet 2 ½ inches before reaching the View Terrace and Inlow Hall.

Or, perhaps we should say Tall Inlow Hall.

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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Best architectural component in a supporting role

In several of our previous posts we’ve mentioned the balustrades and balusters of the Grand Staircase.  After all, it’s hard not to fall in love with the gentle, repetitive curves and rosy hue of the balusters and how many of us have sat on, leaned on or (don’t try this at home) walked along the staircase railings (AKA the baluster caps)?

Photo – courtesy EOU Pierce Library

But balusters and baluster caps alone do not a Grand Staircase make.  Among the other components needed are piers and pier caps.

You’ll find the piers at landings, changes in direction and at periodic intervals on long stair runs.  They serve as terminations and bookends for the balustrade sections.

Two examples of piers – photos courtesy of Hennebery Eddy

Pier caps sit on top of the piers (tied into balustrade caps with steel anchors and pins).  They add character and a finishing touch, but also serve a function as well. They are designed to shed water and this protects the integrity of the piers.

The piers are predominately in fair condition.  This can be attributed to several factors one of which is likely the protection they have received from the pier caps.

Today we nominate the Grand Staircase pier caps for “best architectural component in a supporting role”. 

There are six different style of pier caps (shown below) – photos courtesy of Hennebery Eddy…

Pier cap – rectangular

Pier cap – curved landing

Pier cap – square

Pier cap – top of stairs

Pier cap – L shaped

Pier cap – L shaped at curved landing

Below, 1957 Evensong queen Roberta Miller sits atop a pier cap between balustrade sections…

photo courtesy of EOU Pierce Library

Here, 1962 Evensong queen Gail Fisher rests a gloved hand on a pier cap on one of the landings…

photo courtesy of EOU Pierce Library

And, 1968 Evensong queen Elissa Phipps Stites in front of a two pier cap at the top of the staircase…

photo courtesy of EOU Pierce Library

Finally, snow topped pier caps in 1949…

photo courtesy of EOU Pierce Library

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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