By Les Zaitz
VALE – The two-story brick building once home to the Golden Slipper nightclub collapsed into one of Vale’s main streets Monday afternoon, apparently yet another victim of heavy snows.
No one was injured when about half of the building caved in on itself, spilling debris onto A Street.
City officials had been alerted hours earlier to the collapse risk when a passerby noted a crack running along the building’s north wall about 10 feet below the roof line.
City Manager Lynn Findley checked the damage, advised two people to move their cars and then got help from the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office to tape off the building.
Crews from the Oregon Department of Transportation had just finished setting up temporary signs to squeeze A Street to a single lane when the building gave way.
Debris crumpled onto the sidewalk, and bricks skittered across the street towards businesses and the Vale city library.
A tenant living in a second-floor apartment across the street said the collapse rocked her building.
Police and highway workers quickly closed down streets and fire officials declared the building a hazard. City public works crews moved in, using an excavator to level what remained of the building. Spectators gathered on the sidewalk to watch the unexpected show.
Malheur County records showed the property is owned by Margaret Stallknecht, but she couldn’t be readily located for comment. City officials said they would act to collect cleanup costs from the owner. Stallknecht bought the 10,000-square-foot building in 2008 for $120,000.
The Golden Slipper was a well-known gathering place. Its restaurant and bar, open until the late 1990s, provided live music and once offered much-talked-about steaks.
An upstairs meeting hall was the venue for countless local gatherings, from weddings to class reunions.
The building also was home to the Welcome Inn restaurant and at some point a dress shop. An insignia on the front of the building indicates it once served as an Odd Fellows lodge.
Memories flowed onto Facebook as word of the destruction spread.
“I was a bus boy there in the mid-sixties,” wrote Jeff Lieurance. “Dick Bashford owned it for years – great guy and great family. Dick would invite people in to make Basque chorizo. My mouth still waters just thinking about them.”
Another, Handley Maria, posted: “Used to kick my heels there and eat good food.”
The building is one of several boarded up historic structures in Vale’s downtown. It sits across from the Vale Hotel, which itself is closed but a local nonprofit hopes to restore it.
Malheur County Planning Director Alvin Scott began work at the Welcome Inn restaurant at 14 busing tables. He worked on and off at the Welcome Inn and the Golden Slipper until he was in his mid-40s.
“My wife and I spent a lot of time working there. We had some good times. The Fourth of July was always a lot of fun, we had a lot of things going on. We’d do the queen’s banquet and the grand marshal barbecue,” Scott said.
The historic Vale IOOF Building, once home to the Golden Slipper night club, collapsed on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. The city is considering options to clean up rubble. (Adam Tolman special to the Malheur Enterprise)