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Vandals strike EOU feature
Eastern Oregon University officials hope to take steps to preserve Grand Staircase
Once a prime spot for student events, Eastern Oregon University’s Grand Staircase is now a target for something else — vandalism.
School officials say the vandalism is taking a toll on the 84-year-old structure and now steps must be taken to preserve the staircase.
The Grand Staircase, located outside Inlow Hall, has been in disrepair since the 1980s and closed since 1999.
EOU Security Guard Scott DePriest said vandals are knocking off pieces of the staircase, with the most recent incident occurring this week.
“It’s getting to be a big problem,” he said. “We try to patrol as much as we can, but it doesn’t take long for someone to knock off a piece and leave.”
DePriest said the vandalism usually occurs on one of three landings, and that there isn’t much landing left.
EOU officials have scheduled a meeting with the State Historic Preservation Office, said Bill Benson, security supervisor and assistant director of facilities and planning. Inlow Hall and the Grand Staircase are on both the state and national registers of historic places.
“We have to talk to (the historic preservation office) before we can do anything,” Benson said. “We need guidance from them.”
EOU Vice President for University Admissions and Advancement Tim Seydel said the next step for preservation of the staircase is to obtain funding.
“The staircase has been included in EOU’s construction and maintenance funding requests with the state for several years now, but it is difficult to gain funding for projects that are not directly related to academics and student learning,” Seydel said.
Seydel said preservation of the Grand Staircase is important because of its history. It was once used for graduation, performances and other special events.
A spring event called Evensong was held for decades at the Grand Staircase before ending in the early 1970s.
The vandalism has been reported to the La Grande Police Department.
“Should any member of the community observe people on the staircase or doing damage to it, please contact EOU Security or the La Grande Police Department,” Seydel said.