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The La Grande Observer 12/15/14

The LaGrande Observer is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Current subscribers have full access to the E-edition.

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Was a La Grande hotel once destroyed with explosives?

We know of at least one La Grande building that was brought down with dynamite.

The old La Grande Hotel, located on the 2000 block of Fourth Street, was razed with the aid of explosives in early 1941. 

A photo of the hotel crumbling immediately after a dynamite blast appeared in the Jan. 28, 1941, edition of The Observer. The three-story concrete structure “…collapsed like an eggshell,” according to the photo’s caption.

The building was razed by Hart Brothers Construction company and hundreds of people witnessed the structure being blown up, according to The Observer.

The La Grande Hotel had opened on Nov. 18, 1927, according to the book “A Little Bit of This & A Little Bit of That: La Grande and Union County Trivia,” by Bob Bull of La Grande. The structure was located where Cook Memorial Library and the ODS building, which houses the ODS College of Dental Sciences, are now located.

The hotel closed a few years after opening and Union County later assumed ownership of it. The empty hotel was sold to the Safeway company on Jan. 20, 1940 for $12,000, according to Bull.

A Safeway grocery store was later built at the site of the old hotel. The first Safeway building at the Fourth Street site was replaced by a larger one more than a decade later. Safeway moved to its present La Grande location in 2001. The Safeway building on Fourth Street was torn down in 2003.

When did Grandview Cemetery open?

Grandview Cemetery, located about a half mile southeast of La Grande, opened in 1878 according to a story in the May 18, 1995, edition of The Observer. It was first known as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Cemetery. The 40-acre cemetery is maintained by the La Grande Cemetery District.

Who is the Hoke Union Building at Eastern Oregon University named after?

The building is named in honor of Mac Hoke, who served on the Oregon State Board of Higher Education in the 1940s. Hoke, who lived in the Pendleton area, was a big supporter of EOU. 

The Hoke Union Building at EOU opened in 1973 but its roots date back to World War II. 

Eastern’s original Hoke structure was a U.S. Army air base quarters used during World War II in Pendleton. The building was transported to Eastern in 1947. It was named Hoke Hall after it was put up at Eastern according to a story in the Aug. 15, 1947, Observer. 

The building was located near where the present Hoke Union Building is. 

Contact Dick Mason at 541-786-5386 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Dick on Twitter @lgoMason. 


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