LA GRANDE — The future of Inlow Hall, Eastern Oregon University’s oldest building, now looks as solid as the face of Indian Rock near Mount Emily.
The building is set to receive major restoration and modernization work after a committee in the Oregon Legislature voted on Thursday, June 24, to allow the use of nearly $446 million in state bonds to finance major building and renovation projects. The request for the $446 million in funding by the state’s universities later received final approval from the Legislature.
EOU’s share of this funding will be $18.520 million, all of which will be used for work at Inlow Hall.
“It will be a great upgrade and update,” said Tim Seydel, EOU’s vice president for university advancement.
The funding, which includes about $500,000 in matching funds from the school, will allow the university to complete the second phase of its Inlow Hall restoration project. The first phase started in 2009 and was competed several years later. Phase 2 work on the structure will involve steps like completing seismic upgrades started in Phase 1 to make the building better prepared for an earthquake, replacing the building’s clay tile roof system and removing unreinforced brick chimneys.
Other upgrades will involve replacing electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems with smaller more efficient versions, which will boost the availability of space for other uses at Inlow Hall. The space would be used to provide a more expansive site for Eastern’s Rural Engagement and Vitality Center, according to the capital funding request the school submitted to the state. The center was created to develop partnerships between EOU and entities in the region that enhance the vitality of the region and develop its rural workforce and leaders.
EOU’s capital funding request report said that the only alternative to the renovation project would be the demolition and replacement of Inlow Hall. The report said this would not be a reasonable alternative.
“This building serves every single EOU student and its ability to do so is critical,” the EOU report stated.
Construction of Inlow Hall began in 1928 and was completed in 1929. Inlow Hall was Eastern’s first building and the only one in place when the school opened in June 1929. It remained Eastern’s only building until the mid-1930s when Ackerman Hall was constructed. Inlow Hall, in the years that followed, has evolved into Eastern’s primary administrative and student support services building.
All the funding EOU will receive for the project will have to be spent for the renovation of Inlow Hall. Seydel said none of it may be used to pay for the restoration of the building’s grand north staircase, which has been closed for years due to its deteriorating condition. The staircase is as old as Inlow Hall.
Work on Phase 2 of the Inlow Hall restoration project will likely start in July 2023 and be completed by September 2025.