The Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society met on Sunday, Sept. 15. The meeting was held in Grandview at the site of the Grandview Normal Institute. Attendees were met at the parking lot by Eddie Starring, a member of the Board of Director of the Grandview Heritage Foundation. From the parking area, he identified points where various buildings stood on the school’s campus.
The meeting was convened in the garage portion of a house, which has been converted to the Grandview History Center. The center is located on the site where the house used by the principal of the institute once stood. In the house and garage are numerous records from Grandview Normal Institute and artifacts from the school and the Grandview community.
Those attending the meeting sat on pews used in the Congregational Church, which was chartered in 1884 by the American Missionary Association. The pews were used until 1986 when the church was torn down and replaced by the current Grandview Baptist Church.
President Gary Drinkard presided over regular business items of minutes, financial reports and board and committee reports. Ralph Green, program chairman, introduced the speaker, B.B. Blevins, society member and Chairman of the Grandview Heritage Foundation.
Blevins traced the early days of the Grandview community — first known as Piney Falls — back to 1871 when a sawmill was constructed on Little Piney River and a Post Office was opened shortly thereafter. He identified Grand View Academy — later renamed Grandview Normal Institute — as the first school on the plateau offering twelve full grades of education. The name was changed in order to emphasize the role of the school in training teachers. The American Missionary Association established the school in 1884, and provided its teachers until the school’s closure in 1925. Many of the Institute’s instructors came from northeastern states and were graduates of Ivy League schools.
Starring and Blevins are grandsons of Ralph and Ruth (Hinds) Starring. The Starring grandparents were both born in Grandview and spent their entire lives there. Mrs. Starring served as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Institute’s alumni group, and was the last living graduate of the Institute.
Society members and guests toured the Grandview History Center and engaged in question and answer sessions with Starring and Blevins.
Drinkard announced the date of the next meeting, Nov. 17. Dr. Marshall Taylor, local veterinarian and golf enthusiast will speak about the history of the Dayton Golf and Country Club.