Founders
Re-found photos

New views of the women who founded Girls Preparatory School in 1906

The difficulty in finding and identifying new photos of people and places from the past limits our collective motivation to do so; leaving only a handful to represent their recorded history.

Here are newly identified photos of two of the three young, well-educated women who gave up the stability and guaranteed income as public school teachers to establish a new private school, succeeding where dozens had previously failed.

The three founders pooled all of their money to equip and launch the school, opening on September 12, 1906 in a four-room schoolhouse at 106 Oak Street. 117 years later, GPS remains one of the largest secondary girls' day schools in the United States.

Chattanooga High School Archives

Within weeks of the class of 1906’s graduation, two Chattanooga High School teachers announced they would not be returning in the fall – and soon convinced a third to join them in forming a new school for girls.


The "Girls' Prep. School" is going to take half the C. H. S. girls with it and they'll teach those McCallie school boys a thing or so as to whether boys have more sense than girls. To them be the glory.
1906 CHS Class Prophecy:
Dorothea Snodgrass
June 1, 1906 Chattanooga News

College preparatory schools began as a means to fill the gap left by public high schools’ 3-years of studies, lacking courses needed for college admissions.

Click or tap images to enlarge 

From original glass plate negative.
Likely location: 111 Gilmer (East 8th)

    Left to right:
  • Brunelle Lindsay, Teacher
  • Unknown
  • Annetta Trimble, Teacher
  • Eula Lea Jarnagin, Teacher and co-founder of GPS.
  • Tommie Duffy, Teacher and co-founder of GPS.

SOURCE:  Picnooga / Charlie Coulter

CHS Teachers

From original glass plate negative.
Likely location: 111 Gilmer (East 8th)

    Left to right:
  • Unknown
  • Fred H. Phillips, Jr. Teacher
  • Tommie Duffy, Teacher and co-founder of GPS.
  • Eula Lea Jarnagin, Teacher and co-founder of GPS.
  • Annetta Trimble, Teacher
  • Professor Henry D. Wyatt, considered the 'father' of the public school system of Chattanooga.
  • Brunelle Lindsay, Teacher

SOURCE:  Chattanooga Then / David Moon

1902

    TOP ROW Left to right:
  • Spencer Jarnagin McCallie was the headmaster of McCallie School which he cofounded with his brother, James Park McCallie in 1905.
  • Tommie Duffy, Teacher and co-founder of GPS.
  • Fred H. Phillips, Jr. Teacher
  • Eula Lea Jarnagin, Teacher and co-founder of GPS.
  • Professor Henry D. Wyatt, considered the 'father' of the public school system of Chattanooga.
    BOTTOM ROW Left to right:
  • Lillian Joyce Condra Knox, Teacher
  • Annetta Trimble, Teacher
  • Brunelle Lindsay, Teacher
  • Unknown

SOURCE:  Chattanooga High School Archives

Ms Jarnagin

Chattanooga High School Archives

Eula Lea Jarnagin1877-1962

Eula’s grandfather was Spencer Jarnagin, a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, supporter of public education and a lawyer for the Cherokees in the Chattanooga area. Eula Jarnagin and Grace McCallie were first cousins.

Her uncle, the Reverend Thomas H. McCallie, was chairman of the fourth school district and acquired a position for her teaching in the newly established Ridgedale School.

Tommie Payne Duffy1874-1947

Miss Duffy

Tommie's youth came to an abrupt end when mother died suddenly she was seventeen, leaving her to care for her five young brothers, the youngest just three months old. She took on the role of mother to them, cared for her father, and managed the household.

Despite these early burdens, Tommie was determined to educate herself. She attended schools in Chattanooga and graduated from Chattanooga High School in 1893. Immediately after graduation, at the age of nineteen, she took her first teaching job as a "supernumerary," filling in for any absent teacher. This required her to teach all subjects across all grades, often to classrooms of fifty or sixty students.

Ms Grace McCallie

Grace Eliza McCallie1865-1918

Two of Grace McCallie’s brothers, James Park McCallie and Spencer Jarnagin McCallie, also planned to open a preparatory school. In a letter, their father, Rev. Thomas H. McCallie encouraged them to admit girls as well. But in 1905, the McCallie School opened for boys only.

Miss McCallie, who died unexpectedly in 1918, lived in the top floor apartment of the Palmetto Building along with Misses Duffy and Jarnagin. This was the same apartment where Baylor Professor John Roy Baylor and his family had resided.

GPS School

Chattanooga News, Sept. 8, 1906

Sources used for this page:

TN Encyclopedia
Girls Preparatory School
THE FOUNDING OF GIRLS' PREPARATORY SCHOOL 1906-1918
by Eleanor Grace McCallie
GIRLS PREPARATORY SCHOOL ALUMNAE DIRECTORY
80th Anniversary Edition
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