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Tucked into Oregon rural infrastructure package, $4 million to save a staircase

The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande in 1949. (Photo courtesy of Eastern Oregon University)

In the early 1930s, when Eastern Oregon University was exclusively a teacher training college, students walked up the five-tiered Grand Staircase to campus.

The steps, built in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, were unlike anything in the state and region, made mostly of Depression-era concrete and built by Oregon Architect John Bennes who designed the Hollywood Theater in P By the late 1980s, the staircase fell into disrepair, and was closed to public access nearly 20 years ago.

Anne Olson, a former La Grande resident, her family and university leaders took on the fight about a decade ago to save it. They finally got their wish.

Tucked into a $100 million rural infrastructure package passed . . .