E.W. Grove School sits atop one of the highest points in West Tennessee and is located on a century’s-old and
historically significant campus. The school’s namesake, Edwin Wiley Grove, was born in Whiteville,
Tennessee, in 1850 and moved to Paris in 1874. He became a clerk in a drug store for Dr. Samuel Houston
Caldwell, Nathan Bedford Forrest’s battlefield surgeon during the Civil War, and A.B. Mitchum, a prominent
E.W. Grove produced “Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic” in 1878 and established the Grove Pharmacy in 1880.
The chill tonic was a preventative and treatment for malaria and became a household name for decades. By
1890, more bottles of the chill tonic were sold than bottles of Coca-Cola. The British Army made the tonic
standard issue for every soldier going to mosquito-infested lands.
Grove’s principal investor, Col. O.C. Barton, became Paris’ first millionaire. In 1916, Col. Barton built Cavitt
Place, which became the home of the Paris-Henry County Heritage Center. Grove formed the Paris Medicine
Company in 1886 and grew so large it moved to St. Louis in 1889. Ownership and the board of directors
remained largely in Paris. Among several medicinal products, the Paris Medicine Co. produced the world’s first
cold tablets—Grove’s Bromo Quinine—and became the largest consumer of quinine in the world.
Grove established a summer residence in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1898. The historic Grove Park Inn was
dedicated on July 12, 1913, with a keynote address by William Jennings Bryan. Grove spent $100,000 to build
one of the nation’s first motor roads in North Carolina. Thomas Wolfe in his book, You Can’t Go Home Again,
criticized E.W. Grove for tearing down the old Battery Park Hotel in Asheville and building a downtown area in
In 1905, Grove became the principal stockholder in the Atlanta Georgian, which later became the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution. Grove bought one million acres in Mexico. He wanted to sell it to the United States
government to square off the U.S.-Mexico border. The plan did not materialize.
In 1902, the Henry County Court rejected Grove’s first offer to endow a public, tuition-free high school due “to
the prevalence of smallpox for the past three years” in the county and other reasons. On July 3, 1905, Grove’s
second offer was made to the county court and was accepted.
The cornerstone for E.W. Grove-Henry County High School was laid in a Masonic ceremony following a
parade from downtown Paris on June 26, 1906. Among other items, a chill tonic bottle and a package of Bromo
Quinine tablets were placed in the cornerstone. T.P. Jernigan donated 17 acres for the campus. Grove Tower
was designed by Chattanooga architect, Reuben Harrison Hunt, who had designed the Henry County Court
House, built in 1896.
The high school became for first privately endowed public secondary school in Tennessee and the third county
public high school in the state—following Lake and Rhea counties. Thirty students took classes in the Paris City
Hall until the Tower was completed. The school was one of the nation’s first institutions accredited by the
Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
Grove Tower held the nation’s first vocational agricultural program under the 1917 Smith-Hughes Act.
Principal Dudley M. Clements was the nation’s first vocational agricultural teacher under the federal act and
was instrumental in creating the Future Farmers of Tennessee—a forerunner of the Future Farmers of
America—and established the nation’s first FFA leadership training camp in Doyle, Tennessee.
The school’s first graduation took place at a Sunday tent revival in 1908. There were two graduates. Cavitt Hall,
originally a girls’ dormitory, was built in 1910 and supported largely by Col. Barton. In 1907, Grove provided
uniforms for the school’s first football team, the Chill Tonics, and Col. Barton donated Barton Field. Grove sent
money to purchase apples, oranges, and peaches for the students and regularly gave money for other school
In 1910, Cavitt Hall, originally a girls’ dormitory, became the first addition to Grove High School. The building
was funded in part by Col. Barton and named for his wife’s family. By 1924, Cavitt Hall was converted to a
home economics department and apartments for the coach and janitor; the basement continued to be used as a
cafeteria until 1949. On January 27, 1943, a fire destroyed much of the interior of Cavitt Hall, but it was
repaired three years later. After years of deterioration, Cavitt Hall was demolished in 1985.
Grove died in his new Battery Park Hotel in Asheville in 1927. His death made front-page news in St. Louis,
Asheville, and Paris. He had begun construction of the Grove Arcade, one of the nation’s first indoor shopping
malls, in downtown Asheville. The Arcade was completed two years after Grove’s death. He had also paid for
much of the construction of First Presbyterian Church in Paris, where his funeral took place. Grove was buried
with his family in the Paris City Cemetery.
In 1937, a building housing a gymnasium and two classrooms was erected with WPA funds and labor. The
American Legion Memorial Stadium was built at Barton Field in 1948 and the following year, Weston Hall was
completed and named for former teacher, Professor A.S. Weston who died in 1946.
In 1959, the wings for the Grove Junior High School were built to house grades seven through nine on the
Grove High campus. In 1969, the last senior class graduated from Grove High School and the junior high school
remained. Grove Tower, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, was restored as a
Tennessee Homecoming ’86 project and became the home of the Henry County Board of Education.
In 1996, E.W. Grove School became the nation’s first institution for high school freshmen with its own
campus. E.W. Grove School and Henry County High School continue to receive financial support from the
endowment set up by the founder of free public high school education in Henry County more than a century