In 2003, when William Ferris left behind 18 years at the University of Mississippi to accept a history professorship at UNC, the former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture brought a new vigor to Southern studies. He also brought a vision that these flagship programs on the campus should be housed together where they would be noticed.
Last week, the historic home on Franklin Street known as the James Love House was the site of a ceremony that brought together members of three families as well as UNC System President Erskine Bowles ’67 and Chancellor James Moeser to honor the building’s past and future.
After renovations and a 900-square-foot addition named for the late James A. Hutchins Jr. ’37, the resulting building will be called the Love House and Hutchins Forum and become home for Carolina’s Center for the Study of the American South.
The house, at 410 E. Franklin St., was built around 1887 by Carolina mathematics professor James Lee Love 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.
Hutchins, a football star at Carolina, studied Southern regional development at the University and carried his lessons worldwide after World War II, working with the federal departments of State and Agriculture to fight hunger and underdevelopment.
Scheduled to open in April 2007, the new facility is envisioned to enhance Carolina’s longtime role as the world’s leading institution 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 of its activities under one roof and expand its services.
“The center’s work has been limited by the lack of appropriate space,” Moeser said. “The Love House and Hutchins Forum not only give us room to expand our work, they provide a physical and beautiful icon of Southern culture and Carolina’s contribution to it.”
After Spencer moved out of 410 E. Franklin, 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.
The most recent tenant was historian Spencie Love, an author and historian who is Spencer’s great-granddaughter. After Love moved out, she was instrumental in obtaining a Love family foundation gift to the University to start the renovation. The seven-room, one-story house has deep porches, wide lawns and large shade trees.
Glenn Hutchins, co-founder and managing director of Silver Lake Partners of New York, donated funds for the project to honor his father. James Hutchins studied with the late Carolina sociologist Howard Odum, who helped build the University’s commitment to tackling social and economic challenges in the South when he came to Carolina in 1920.
“We are delighted that our new location will so easily serve the larger University community,” Watson said. “We welcome our role in bringing the University’s rich treasure trove of Southern history and culture to the public.”
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