One of the architectural significant features of the Memorial Union is the chandelier in the rotunda of the building. It is original to the Memorial Union and was in place when the building opened in the fall of 1927. Because the chandelier is about 40 feet above the floor of the rotunda, many people wonder how we change the bulbs. The architects of the MU planned for this maintenance activity by installing an electric winch to raise and lower the chandelier. A very forward thinking concept in 1926 when the building was being designed, since electricity had come to Corvallis only 10 years before.
This wench system did cause a problem in the summer of 1991 about 65 years after it was installed. During one of the routine bulb replacements, the cable attached to the chandelier broke and the fall to the floor. The chandelier was damaged, but repairable. The restoration work was done by local sculpture, Raymond Hunter. You can still see some chips in the travertine floor where the chandelier hit, if you know where to look.
The chandelier fall and re-installation were covered in the Daily Barometer newspaper in 1991. Before the chandelier was reinstalled, a new winch was commissioned along with heaver support cable. You can see the Barometer photos at this link. Chandelier-Barometer July 1991
In 2011, when scaffolding was installed in the rotunda for repainting, the chandelier was removed again. While it was in storage, a local electrician completely rewired the chandelier to bring it up to current code requirements. There chandelier should serve the Memorial Union well for the next 100 years.