After 1882, rail passenger service to Piney Falls made it easier for those living in and visiting the Tennessee Valley to access the plateau's edge. Families from near and far continued moving into the area. Eventually, residents desired larger and better schools for the community.
A building serving as both church and school constructed in the 1870s was destroyed by fire sometime after 1880. Shortly afterwards, Mr. A. A. Hubbard and Mr. M. L. Abbott, who had purchased large tracts of land between the Piney Falls village and the plateau's edge, and Lt. Charles Jewett Jr., the son of a nationally renowned temperance lecturer, approached the American Missionary Association (AMA) to locate one of its "academies" on donated land. The AMA was operated by the Congregationalist Church, and the Piney Falls location was consistent the Church's desire to spread its influence amongst the "highlanders" living on the plateau.
The availability of passenger rail service and the offer of free land were certainly positive influences during negotiations with the AMA, but it was the community's spectacular view of the Tennessee Valley that was most persuasive. The AMA imposed only one condition on its favorable decision - the name of the community would be changed from "Piney Falls" to "Grand View." On March 19, 1883, the Post Office was relocated adjacent to the new Grand View Academy campus, and the Piney Falls postmark was replaced with, "Grand View, Tenn."
In June 1884, Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Abbott transferred 154 acres of land to the AMA, and a few months later the Grand View Academy began class in the Piney Falls log school house. That same year, the school moved its classes into a newly constructed Congregationalist church. Shortly after classes began, school colors were selected - blue and gray - representing the unification of northern and southern states after the Civil War. Also, after one year of operation, the school was renamed the Grandview Normal Institute to feature the school's preparatory coursework for educating teachers. The Congregationalist Church building remained GNI's primary classroom location until 1889.
Shortly after the The Grand View Academy became the Grandview Normal Institute, it was the first "high school" accredited by the University of Tennessee. GNI graduates received full scholarships upon enrolling at the University of Tennessee.