Fall 2006

Love House and Hutchins Forum to house Southern studies at UNC

Once its renovation is complete, a historic home on Franklin Street with longstanding ties to UNC will have an even closer relationship to campus.

The James Lee Love House at 410 E. Franklin St. was built around 1887 by James Lee Love, a Carolina mathematics professor, and his wife, June Spencer Love, for themselves and her mother, Cornelia Phillips Spencer. Spencer is known for ringing the South Building bell upon news in 1875 that the University would reopen after Reconstruction.

Marguerite Hutchins (Glenn Hutchins’ mother), right, reacts as she and Spencie Love, center, remove a cover from a sign at a ceremony marking the start of construction and renovation of the Love House and Hutchins Forum, which will house the Center for the Study of the American South. At left is Harry Watson, director of the center. (Photo by Dan Sears)

The Loves moved north after James accepted a job at Harvard, and Spencer lived there alone. After she moved out, the house and land went in and out of UNC’s possession several times before becoming the University’s for good in the 1940s, said UNC history professor Harry Watson, director of the Center for the Study of the American South. Since then, the University has leased the house, mainly as a residence.

But soon, after renovations and a 900-square-foot addition named for the late James A. Hutchins Jr., a 1937 UNC graduate, the building will be called the Love House and Hutchins Forum and become home to Carolina’s Center for the Study of the American South.

The building’s most recent tenant was historian Spencie Love, Spencer’s great-granddaughter. After moving out, she helped obtain a Love family foundation gift to the University to start the renovation.

Glenn Hutchins, co-founder and managing director of Silver Lake Partners of New York City, donated funds for the project to honor his father. James Hutchins studied with the late Carolina sociologist Howard Odum, who is credited with building UNC’s commitment to tackling social and economic challenges in the South when he came to Carolina in 1920.

“My family and I are very pleased to support this important project,” Hutchins said. “The beauty of the renovated physical structure is already evident, reflecting the enduring values that lie at the heart of the University’s commitment to leading the way in tackling the social and economic challenges of the day.”

Indeed, the seven-room, one-story house has deep porches, wide lawns and large shade trees—a natural home for research, teaching and public dialogue on the history, culture and contemporary experience of the South. The center, founded in 1992, works to further this signature mission at UNC.

The renovated building will allow the center, now housed in six small offices on different floors of Hamilton and Carroll halls, to bring all its activities under one roof and expand its services to UNC and the public.

“We are delighted that our new location will so easily serve the larger University community,” Watson said.

As of late September, the restoration process was ahead of schedule. “The new copper roof is not only beautiful, it will also be water-tight—unlike its predecessor!” Watson siad. “We can’t wait to move in and to welcome everyone to our dedication.”

Spencie Love said she was thrilled to see the house’s transformation. “It’s really a re-birth for the house,” she said. “Now people will enjoy it for both its old and new qualities.”

Claire Cusick*

* With contributions from L.J. Toler in UNC News Services.

The Love House and Hutchins Forum will be dedicated on April 21, 2007.