history

The Orange Grove Center is a private non-profit organization that serves adults and children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). The agency was founded in 1953 by a group of Chattanooga parents and community leaders who were seeking services for children with disabilities.

Since its inception, OGC has been at the forefront nationally in pioneering services for individuals with IDD. Offered educational opportunities and new avenues for personal growth, OGC's charter class of 25 students flourished rapidly. They became trailblazers, dispelling myths and dissolving long-held public misconceptions about the learning potential of those with developmental disabilities. 

A group of children stand together. This is one of Orange Grove's first classes at the newly founded school.
Stacked cinder blocks stand at the ready to build the Orange Grove Center main building.

orange grove CONTINUES to POSITIVELY impact lives

The courtyard on the main Orange Grove Campus - low buildings surround a circular walkway with trees interspersed.

Today, Orange Grove proudly offers person-centered services and programs to 1000+ children and adults, with a goal of transforming our community into one that is truly inclusive and diverse – one where all of its citizens have the skills and support necessary to live the life they want. While the challenge of maintaining long-term support for our communities' citizens with IDD is omnipresent, we approach the future in the same fashion as did our predecessors in 1953.

Embrace the challenge and move forward! That's just the way it's done at Orange Grove.


A close-up of two Osage oranges still on the branch.

DID YOU KNOW?

Orange Grove Center takes its name from the Osage orange. Also called a hedge apple or mock orange, the tree is a member of the mulberry family, and the fruit it bears, while not harmful, is not edible. Though not suitable as a source of food, due to its density, flexibility, and resistance to rot, the wood of the tree has been highly prized for making wooden bows and wagon wheels. Additionally, before the invention and widespread adoption of barbed wire, farmers and landowners would plant rows of trimmed, interlocking Osage trees to act as a kind of natural fencing to prevent livestock from roaming too far.

The original Orange Grove school building sat on what was once an Osage orange grove, which had been planted by a Civil War veteran who operated a carriage shop. Today, you can still find many Osage trees around our main campus, which continue to bear their unique fruit.