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Grandview's pioneering history shared during centennial observance

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Flanked by photos of Grandview's founding fathers, Barb Olmstead provides community members with the background of the city's beginnings at last night's Centennial Oral History Series presentation.

GRANDVIEW -Barb Olmstead has written many stories of Grandview's history throughout the years, and last night she shared some of that history at the first of five presentations to be provided through May, commemorating the community's centennial year.

She told those in attendance there were two men, Grant Pitman and Else Dean of the Granger Land Company, who stopped to plot land where Grandview currently stands in October 1905. Those two men took in the view of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier and, according to legend, pronounced, "What a grand view." This is how the city was named, said Olmstead, emphasizing the fact that the story is legendary.

She said the first settlers, however, came to the area in 1891. The first bridge from the Mabton area over the Yakima River was built in 1898, and as the railroad companies became land barons, more people began to settle in the area.

Olmstead said 40 acres of land changed hands beginning in 1902 and eventually became property of the Granger Land Company. That 40 acres is now the center of Grandview.

Early settlers were also attracted to the area because of the Sunnyside canal, which was the largest irrigation canal in the Northwest. It was built in 1892.

There were a handful of settlers in the Grandview area at the time, and they struggled, according to Olmstead. She said the difficulty was in receiving steady supplies to the homesteads.

One of the first churches near the Grandview land was the Catholic Church, established in 1892. Olmstead said church members grew hops and wine grapes in the area.

She said the Euclid District was established in 1902 and the Euclid School House was built in 1903.

The Bethany School House was the second school established in the area and Bethany Presbyterian Church was built in 1905. That church was not yet in the central town site. The building was moved to its current location at the corner of Birch Street and Avenue D in 1908, after the central town site had been established.

Ann Sykes, sister of Grant Pitman, built the town's first two-story building, the post office, in 1906. She traveled to Mabton to retrieve Grandview's mail and remained postmistress until 1921.

In the fall of 1906, J.L. Work and Joseph Fleming opened Grandview's first store. It still was not easy getting goods to the store and Work sold his share to Fleming.

According to Olmstead, the first child to be born in Grandview was Ralph Fleming, son of Mr. and Mrs. Fleming. That was in 1907.

The third building to be erected in Grandview was the bank, located on West A Street. The bank was built by Prosser State Bank, but in 1908 A.W. Hawn purchased the establishment, and it became Grandview State Bank.

In 1910, the bank moved to a brick building on the corner of Division and South Second streets. That building is now known as "The Vineyard." But, the bank moved again to what is now the "Grandview Investment Building" in 1918 and Hawn died in 1921.

With a demand for food and lodging in Grandview, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Elser opened their home as a boarding house. The couple later built the town's first hotel, a two-story structure on West A Street.

"At the time, the average worker made 22 cents per hour," said Olmstead, citing 90 percent of doctors had not received a college education.

She said the first well was dug on Division Street, and many of the community members traveled to get water from that well.

In 1907, Grandview's lumber yard, first restaurant and livery stable were established.

The city's first phone was installed at the Fleming store and community members needing to contact someone outside of Grandview ventured there to do so.

In 1908, Grandview's first pharmacy was established and a second hotel was erected. The blacksmith opened for business that year as well.

Grandview's first railroad depot opened in 1909 at the north end of Division Street. That building is now located in Sunnyside and serves as a home for the medical practice of Dr. Shiels, according to Olmstead.

"The first passenger to travel to Grandview was Ralph Fleming," she said, stating the Flemings placed their young son on the "Galloping Goose" in Prosser for the purpose of marking the moment in history.

Grandview's first mayor was John Monroe and the first town marshal was Ed Dawson. Olmstead told those in attendance last night Grandview's fifth town ordinance was an implementation of taxes to provide funding for the city.

March 1909, the Grandview Herald began its first publication and was opened by Mr. Star. Olmstead said a fire in 1912 did not deter the staff of the Herald. The newspaper was published in Sunnyside until the newspaper was able to re-establish itself in its current location on Division Street.

She also provided a brief history of Grandview's fruit houses, clubs and schools, stating there were more than 40 businesses in Grandview by 1930 and the community prospered at a slow and steady pace.

Grandview once had an airport, opened in 1929, and a golf course along Sunnyside/Mabton Highway.

Olmstead the history of Grandview is both fascinating and rich in heritage.

The next oral history presentation of Grandview's heritage is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 24, at the Vineyard. The event begins at 7 p.m. and the topic will be Grandview's churches and schools.

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