GNI Student Body Organization
Grandview Heritage Foundation
Although an alumni association was active while the Grandview Normal Institute was operating, it was a
reunion of former students in June of 1928 that created the framework for preserving so much of the
area's history.  At that gathering the "Grandview Student Development Association" was formed for the
initial purpose of deciding how best to dispose of campus buildings and property.  The new association
agreed to meet annually on the third Sunday in July.  A year later nearly one thousand former students and
teachers from thirteen states gathered on the old GNI campus.  Attendees came from as far away as
California, Colorado and New Hampshire.  The "Third Sunday" gathering became a continuing tradition in
the Grandview community.
69er Picnic 1901
Through the Great Depression and into World War II, over 500 people from up to sixteen states attended
the reunion each year.  If a former student or teacher was unable to attend, he or she wrote a letter or
sent a telegram that was read aloud to the others at the meeting.  At the 1939 reunion it was suggested
that a paper be printed once a year and circulated among former students and teachers for the purpose of
"informing" one another about events in their respective lives.  For the next 53 years the
was published by the GNI student body organization.  As promised, it became a vehicle for
subscribers to share stories about their current lives.  But as time passed and its contributors became
older, the paper evolved into a historically valuable collection of firsthand reminiscences about early
Grandview and the GNI school.
(c) Grandview Heritage Foundation
(c) Grandview Heritage Foundation
For several decades after GNI closed, local graduates and students did much to preserve the memory of the
old school.  A commemorative plaque was obtained from the Tennessee Historical Commission indicating the
importance of the school and identifying its campus.  In 1988, a few surviving students purchased a portion
of the old campus from the State of Tennessee, preserving the site and deeding it to the Grandview
Community Center.  Through much luck and the hard work of GNI's last living graduate, Ruth Hinds
Starring (died October 2001 at the age of 99 years), approximately 3000 books from the original GNI library
have been saved.  Mrs. Starring was also the last editor of the
Grandview Informer, a job she inherited upon
the death of her older sister, Esther Hinds Allen.  These two ladies produced and distributed the paper over its
lifetime, and as a result they accumulated a significant collection of letters, documents, photographs, artifacts
and ephemera relating to early Grandview and the GNI school.  Included in this collection are over two
hundred  photographic glass negatives taken by Miss Harriett R. Stratton, whose parents, aunts and uncles
migrated from western New York to Piney Falls and Grassy Cove, Tennessee in the 1870s.  Miss Stratton
photographically captured the area's rapid transition from a wilderness settlement of log houses to an
education mecca.  (Several photographs used for this website are from the Stratton Collection.)   Also
surviving are copies of school catalogues published annually by GNI during the school's operation.  These
items are an important genealogical resource in that they contain the name, origin and grade level of every
student for each school year, as well as the name and courses of instruction for every teacher.  
(c) Grandview Heritage Foundation
"69ER" PICNIC 1901
(c) Grandview Heritage Foundation
(c) Grandview Heritage Foundation