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Why do they call it Love Grove?

Ben Steelman

This Wilmington community, on the north end of the city, was apparently named for Love Grove Plantation, located in the vicinity before the Civil War. Tradition claims it was once owned by the Love family, who had been in the area since the early 1800s.

According to local historian Bill Reaves, the name was in common use in local newspapers by 1850. The area was bought or leased as farmland through the 1880s. In 1909, though, Margaret C. Darby & Co. began offering 50-by-100-foot lots in the area for prices ranging from $100 to $125.

By the 1920s, Love Grove was a secluded, mostly African-American residential area. In 1925, more than 30 houses stood in the area. By the dawn of the 21st century, Love Grove had about 60 single-family houses.

In the 1960s, the city tried unsuccessfully to evict local residents and build a sewage treatment facility in Love Grove. In 2004, Wilmington City Council approved a developers’ request to build roughly 190 housing units on a 25-acre lot.

Bounded by the river and by a number of old railroad rights-of-way, Love Grove had only one access route, along King Street.

At one time, the area had a number of small factories and mills, including Wynnewood Lumber Co., the Wilmington Wood Products Co. and the Aladdin Co., which manufactured prefabricated frame houses. The last of these, Southern Inc., closed in 1996. Founded around 1909 by an Italian immigrant, Giovanni Colucci, the business was known for much of its history as Southern Box and Lumber Co. For many years before World War II, it built crates to ship truck produce from New Hanover County’s farms to northern markets. Southern’s old boiler room and its tall brick smokestack — reputed to be the last of its kind to survive in Wilmington — were used as locations in filming the motion picture “The Road to Wellville.”

Williams Love Grove Baptist Church is located off U.S. 17 in Hampstead.

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One Response to “ Why do they call it Love Grove?”

  1. On May 9, 2013 at 1:07 am Wanda DeBose- Green wrote:

    I was born in 1963 to a young couple whom fell in love, both my parents grew up in Love Grove. There’s a lot of history behind those tracks…Love Grove was famous among African-American families for it’s plum trees and juke joints (a place to socialize,usually the selling of illegal beverages). I have some fond and also tragic memories about Love Grove. Please feel free to email me and ask any question you may have about our beloved Love Grove.

    Thank you,
    Wanda DeBose-Green

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