$7.5 million and It’s Yours: The 1937 J. Spencer Love House in Irving Park

As J. Spencer Love was building Burlington Mills into the largest textile company in the world, he moved to Greensboro and built an 11,000 square-foot house befitting his status as one of 20th century America’s more prominent ground-breaking, union-busting industrialists. The mansion sits at 710 Country Club Drive on 3.3 acres of prime Irving Park property, and it went on the market this week for $7.495 million.

“The Love House is a palatial Georgian Revival mansion inspired by eighteenth century Virginia houses,” the neighborhood’s National Register nomination says. “It features Flemish bond brickwork, a steep hipped roof with segmental-arched dormers and a modillioned cornice, a five-bay facade with a swan’s neck pedimented entrance, a string course between floors, and brick corner quoins. Large one and two-story wings project from either side of the main block. An expansive landscaped lawn fronts the house and is bordered by a molded brick wall.”

The interior, extensively renovated by the current owners, is equally impressive (photos below). The property’s more noteworthy exterior features include a swimming pool and Bermuda house with two kitchens, two living areas and three bedrooms; a cottage with a fireplace, two bedrooms two bathrooms; and a carriage house with kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. So bring the whole family.

Throw in a gazebo, tennis court, gardens and “picturesque park like grounds” facing the Greensboro Country Club golf course, and you’ll see just what $7.5 million buys around here.

Prominent Owners

Love himself lived there only a few years (there’s more about him and others below). His wife got the house in a 1940 divorce. Still, the decades have only increased the home’s historical interest. The house was had four subsequent owners, and two have been people who need no introduction, around here, at least (a third was one of Love’s sons).

By the time Love’s ex-wife, Sarah Elizabeth Love Appleget, sold the house in 1941, she had remarried and decided to live in Greenwich, Connecticut, rather than Greensboro. She sold the house to another textile magnate and philanthropist, Benjamin Cone, and his wife, Anne. Benjamin was one of Ceasar Cone’s sons and, among other endeavors, served as chairman of Cone Mills, mayor of Greensboro and chairman of Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital. They owned the house for 37 years.

After a couple changes in ownership, the house was bought in 1997 by its current owner, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter and her husband, the late Bynum Hunter. For those just coming in, the Honorable Ms. McElveen-Hunter has been hard to miss in Greensboro the last few decades — founder of Pace Communications, national Republican Party power player, ambassador to Finland and board chair of the American Red Cross, a position she still holds.

Impressive house and impressive history. But the home may not even be the most expensive on its block. There are others in the immediate area that have bigger lots, more square feet and, for what it’s worth, higher tax values. One is directly across the street, the home of the most controversial Postmaster General in recent memory, Louis DeJoy, and Aldona Wos, another former U.S. ambassador to the Baltic region.

710 Country Club Drive

710 Country Club Drive, Greensboro
The J. Spencer Love House I

  • $7.495 million
  • 6 bedrooms, 7 full bathrooms, 3 half-bathrooms, 11,201 square feet, 3.3 acres
  • Price/square foot: $669
  • Built in 1937
  • Listed August 5, 2021
  • Last sale: $2.49 million, February 1997
  • Neighborhood: Irving Park Historic District
  • Listing: “In the late 1990’s the house underwent a total renovation by the present owners. Original features to the house include the Grand Foyer, Formal Living & Dining Rooms, Sunroom, Library, Kitchen, Butler Pantry’s, Morning Room, Six Bedrooms, inclusive of a magnificent primary suite with his & hers dressing rooms, baths.
    • “Lower level with Sauna, hot tub, bedroom, bath, exercise room & mechanical room. Pool House with two kitchens, two living areas & three bedrooms. The Cottage with open kitchen & living area, massive fireplace, two bedrooms, two baths, Carriage House with kitchen, bedroom & bath.
    • “Gazebo, Tennis Court & open air breeze back grounds overlooking beautifully maintained gardens. Picturesque park like grounds face Greensboro Country Club golf course.”
    • District NRHP nomination: “This was the residence of J. Spencer Love, president of Burlington Mills, and his family. The Love House is a palatial Georgian Revival mansion inspired by eighteenth century Virginia houses. It features Flemish bond brickwork, a steep hipped roof with segmental-arched dormers and a modillioned cornice, a five-bay facade with a swan’s neck pedimented entrance, a string course between floors, and brick corner quoins. Large one and two-story wings project from either side of the main block. An expansive landscaped lawn fronts the house and is bordered by a molded brick wall.”
    • James Spencer Love (1896-1962) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father, James Lee Love, was a professor of mathematics at Harvard and, more importantly, a native a Gastonia, where his father and brother owned a small mill called the Gastonia Cotton Manufacturing Company. After graduating from Harvard, J. Spencer went to Gastonia and in 1919 bought the company. In 1922 he moved it to Burlington and gave it a new name. “Shortly afterwards, he decided to gamble on a new product, rayon. Throughout his business career, Love continued to be bold, expanding frequently and seeking new products even in the hard times of the 1930s.” (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography) That kind of initiative turned his small mill into the largest textile company in the world, Burlington Industries.
    • Benjamin and Anne Cone bought the house in 1941 from Love’s ex-wife, Sarah Elizabeth Love Appleget. Cone (1899-1982) was a son of Ceasar and Jeannette Cone. He served as chairman of Cone Mills, 1957-71; mayor of Greensboro, 1949-51 (Greensboro mayors traditionally served only one term until the 1970s); and chairman of Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, 1956-65. He and his wife, Anne Coleman Wortham Cone (1915-1999), were major benefactors to the Weatherspoon Art Museum. They owned the house until 1977, when they sold it to Richard Love, a son of J. Spencer Love, and his wife, Bonnie B. Love. They sold the house in 1982.
    • in 1997, the house was bought by the current owner, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, founder and CEO of Greensboro’s Pace Communications, president of the American Red Cross and former ambassador to Finland, and her husband, Bynum Merritt Hunter (1925-2018).