EOU Receives Funding to Restore the Historic Grand Staircase

Written by Jillian Hoefer

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Photo by Jillian Hoefer

The historic Grand Staircase, a treasured icon to many La Grande residents, will finally be going under renovations to save it before it is too late. Still in the early stages of development, plans are being made to restore this historic landmark, located at the base of Eastern Oregon University’s Inlow Hall. 

In March, a $100 million infrastructure bill was passed by the state of Oregon. Included in this rural infrastructure package was $4 million to save this stunning piece of architecture. Advocates who support renovating the Grand Staircase have worked tirelessly to find funding, though their attempts have fallen short in the past.

Photo by Jillian Hoefer

While many residents are thrilled to hear learn news about these symbolic steps, which bridges the gap between campus and community, not everyone agrees with the allocated amount. On Elkhorn Media’s Facebook page, one person openly voiced their displeasure, “Wow! $4,000,000 for a staircase… How many scholarships could that provide?” Another follower on Elkhorns’s page stated, “A total waste of taxpayers’ money. Almost no one uses them, and they are iced over in the winter anyways.” 

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Photo by Jillian Hoefer

La Grande residents who support the Grand Staircase renovations are overjoyed to learn of the upcoming project to save their beloved icon. An EOU graduate wrote on the same Facebook post, “We stood on those stairs when we graduated. So glad to hear this!” 

At approximately $10 thousand to attend EOU for one year, depending on number of credits, which classes a student takes, and the mode of courses (online or on campus), the dedicated amount to restore the Grand Staircase would fund approximately 100 EOU students for all four years of their undergraduate degree. 

 While $4 million would provide 100 students with a full ride to EOU, there are numerous scholarships and grants available for students which can help lessen the burden of tuition-related expenses. Funding for tuition and other student-related expenses has only increased since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, EOU will be rewarding more scholarships to students starting in the 2023 academic year. 

All 5 levels and 178 steps which make up the Grand Staircase should not be left to erode. There is no word yet on just what the restorations will entail, but upon many alumni and community members’ insistence, the staircase will not be demolished and rebuilt.  The staircase has been a landmark for nearly 100 years, and upon completion of its restoration, it will continue to be a landmark for generations to come. 

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