Helen Hunt Early Learning Center

Helen Hunt Learning Center

Guy and Helen HuntWhat you see is the drop-off entrance and canopy, located on a private alley that runs between Hull and McDonough Streets. The center is one of the elements of the RSA’s Monroe Street project, the piece which secured Governor Hunt’ vital support of the massive undertaking (Hunt had opposed the RSA’s Washington Street work three years earlier). The RSA felt that available child care was a necessary component of downtown development, and this tied in nicely with a passion of the Governor’s wife.  The biggest issue: Before the work was completed, Hunt was convicted of a felony and removed from office. So do we name it for the wife of a felon? The RSA decided a deal was a deal, and proceeded as promised. Gov Hunt’s name was on large RSA construction job signs all over downtown, and soon after he departed, it fell to me to see that all these were quietly changed during the dawn hours of a single day so no picture could be taken of “the changing of the guard”.

At right, Guy and Helen Hunt together near the end of his time. He was an Amway salesman, farmer and Primitive Baptist preacher, who in 1987 became Alabama’s first Republican governor in 110 years. His election was a fluke, the result of a public reaction to the Democratic executive committee’s arrogant rejection of its own Primary winner. Hunt served six years, and at the end of his first year was named as one of the nation’s top governors by U S News & World Reports. In 1993 he was convicted of misusing his tax-free inaugural funds and  his impeachment was automatic. Hunt was later pardoned, but he never recovered from the stigma, and died a broken man.

-Charles Humphries

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