An Uptown Beat in the Village
Pinehurst: This Tufts town of Frederick Law Olmsted allure and Donald Ross golfing lore is hitting a renewed stride
By Crissy Neville » Photos by Mollie Tobias
“An artist, he paints with lakes and wooden slopes; with lawns and banks and forest-covered hills; with mountain sides and ocean views.” Referring to the creative brilliance and conservation-mindedness of his colleague and friend Frederick Law Olmsted, architect Daniel Burham summed up the scenery savvy of the man both known as the Father of American Landscape Architecture and acknowledged for his part in Pinehurst's past.
Or rather, beginnings. In conceptualizing Pinehurst in 1895, Olmsted designed with the brushstrokes of nature to enhance the Sandhills space's geographic genius. He took area typography to his advantage instead of taking from it, incorporating green spaces and evergreens, light and shade, curvilinear thoroughfares and picturesque pathways. Many have trod the Village paths in its 126 years — business leaders and visionaries, residents and retailers, athletes and spectators, young professionals and retirees — all admirers of the Pinehurst palette.
The Stuff of Legend
Making the concept a reality was the Olmsted, Olmstead and Eliot architectural landscape firm, commissioned by James Walker Tufts of Boston, the soda fountain magnate, philanthropist and resort developer who founded Pinehurst. Purchasing 5,800 acres of cut-over timberland with depleted naval stores, Tufts had a vision for the land-poor pastureland that remained: To resurrect the land purchase as a health resort and Sandhills oasis for sufferers of consumption and respiratory illnesses common to the industrial age. Warren H. Manning, the firm's architect-in-charge, brought Tufts’ vision for a New England-style master-planned village and health vista to fruition, going on to establish his own office and then work with the Tufts family 46 years.
Reminiscent of Hollywood's Field of Dreams, Tufts, to paraphrase the movie, seemed to know that if he built it, they would come. And, come, they surely did.
The lush lands of the 100-acre resort, with a preserved open land parcel, aka the Village Green, at its core, offered much in the way of accommodations and recreation for the resort guests. Accommodations built included cottages, boarding homes and the lovely Holly Inn, which opened Dec. 31, 1895, and activities from riding and hunting to lawn bowling and tennis ensued. Three short years later, leisure pursuits remained, but the health focus shifted. Repurposed due to revelations in medical science and the sighting of a little white ball being curiously hit and chased by resort guests in a nearby pasture, American golf was born.
Enter golf guru Donald Ross, another Pinehurst pioneer and acclaimed professional who gave the Village the wings to fly as the Home of American Golf™ today. Tufts first hired the then young Scottish golfer to direct golf operations at Pinehurst. Following Dr. D. Leroy Culver and John Dunn Tucker, who in 1898 and 1899 made Pinehurst's first course, nine-holes each, Ross was soon commissioned by Tufts to redesign No. 1 and create Pinehurst's next three courses.
With no experience in golf course architecture, Ross — credited with designing or redesigning 400 golf courses across North America and remaining with Pinehurst until his death in 1948 —leaned on his knowledge of the links of Dornoch, Scotland, in making the Sandhills' golf greens masterpieces. Case in point: Pinehurst's award-winning and prized No. 2 course, circa 1907.
Landscaped with natural bunker edges and native North Carolina grasses, the course has served as the site of more single golf championships than any course in the country, including sequential U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open Championships for the first time in 2014.
Announced in September 2020 as the United States Golf Association's first "anchor site" for future U.S. Open Championships, No. 2 will host five U.S. Open Championships between 2024 through 2047.
Like badges of honor, the Pinehurst area also sports significant connections to golf for women and youth and golf industry businesses ranging from retail stores to manufacturing facilities.
The Home of American Golf™, honored with a host of awards and accolades over the years, celebrates more good news in a USGA recent announcement. The golf giant is building Golf House Pinehurst, its second national headquarters and a $25 million investment to include a new equipment-testing facility, innovation hub, museum/visitor center and offices by 2023, in view of the Pinehurst Country Club, at the corner of Cherokee Road and Carolina Vista Drive.
Pinehurst Country Club, you say? When did that happen? Ross revved up the fledgling resort town's engines when he arrived on the scene in 1900. By 1901, the four-story Colonial Revival Carolina Hotel was built along with department stores and other shops. By 1903, the Pinehurst Golf Club was established, with the North and South Championship series underway.
The rest is golf history.
More change would come with the sale of Pinehurst in the early 1970s to the land-developing firm, Diamondhead. This transaction did not go well; the firm overdeveloped and did not keep the same company-run town philosophy as the Tufts.
Pinehurst Mayor John Strickland reflected on this era. "Those were challenging times." Strickland said, "But thankfully, Club Corporation, headquartered in Texas and owned by the Dedman family, bought Pinehurst from the banks the town had fallen to in the late 1970s. The family managed the resort properties, which at that time had grown to hotels, clubhouses and seven golf courses, and a town municipal government was formed for the first time."
So, while resort legacy extends to 1895, the Village of Pinehurst (VOP) was a mere twinkle in its mother's eye in those founding days, taking baby steps toward the to-come giant leaps: municipal incorporation,1980; National Landmark District recognition,1996; and major sports hub and headquarters distinction, today.
Another fork in the road occurred when the Dedman family decided to sell all of Club Corporation, "thankfully," said Strickland, "except for Pinehurst." The management of the Pinehurst LLC resides here, with the Dedmans retaining ownership to this day.
"So. then once again, we had a prominent family taking responsibility for the club and resort property parts of Pinehurst," he shared.
Strickland attributes many improvements at resort golf courses and properties to the Dedmans: the renovation of famed course No. 2, the building of No. 8 and the Pinehurst Spa addition to the Carolina Hotel. The Dedman era also ushered in The Cradle par 3, a nine-hole short course and popular new feature at the main golf club. Many resort facelifts have also occurred.
The Ties that Bind
Though recreation and resort life may be what brought ― and brings ― many to Pinehurst, the sense of community found within is what keeps people here. Community pride extends throughout the tranquil, tree-lined neighborhoods and historic housing district into the cozy commercial area often referred to as Old Town or Village Center. This area includes the 766- acre National Historic Landmark District and its 500 private residential and commercial properties.
Moore County native Katrin Franklin, president of the nonprofit Pinehurst Business Partners, is the owner of Bump & Baby, L.L.C., a boutique destination "for mom, baby and big kid," at 3 Market Square. Upon moving home after attending college, Franklin saw Pinehurst in a whole new light, found her niche and decided to stay in what she calls "Utopia."
"We have nice parks and schools, really well-maintained roads, tons of hiking, greenways and community parks, plenty of shopping, great food, a multitude of female-owned and veteran-owned business and community members that support one another," she said of Pinehurst. "This place is special; the small businesses are what makes it so enchanting."
As much an event planner as shop owner, Franklin loves building community, especially with newcomers to town, many of whom are military-affiliated and representative of the burgeoning golf, health care and tourism industries. Pre-COVID, her family-friendly hub, hosted 5-10 events per month, she said, everything from lactation support classes to baby yoga and holidays happenings at Christmas, Easter and other times.
Village festivals and seasonal occasions contribute to this spirit of camaraderie, too. The Holly Arts and Crafts Festival is 42-years strong, safely held even in October 2020 when little else was. The Live After Five concert series and Uprising Theatre Company's Shakespeare in the Pines performances are large Village Green draws each summer. Freedom Fest, Santa's Summer in the Pines and A Village Christmas open-house events further the fellowship.
#Community over Competition is a hashtag and mantra used by Village merchants that "embodies the tenor of the Village Center's merchants, VOP government and residents," shares Franklin, who, as a family-resource store owner, frequently networks with local businesses.
Collaboration might come in a mug, as did "Community Blues," a brew crafted by Pinehurst Brewing Company ― an institution of brew and 'cue at 300 Magnolia Road in the Village's former steam plant ― and other county food and drink purveyors. It may nod to nature like the Village Arboretum, 33 acres of varied gardens and trails preserved by the private Village Heritage Foundation with the Village Council's support. Ditto for the fabulous Fair Barn renovation, a bright plume in the hat of Pinehurst. The historic Pinehurst Harness Track, a winter horse training center since 1915 and within National Landmark District, is a win-win collaboration between harness-horse owners and the Pinehurst Parks and Recreation. Look at the healthy combo of the Moore County Farmers Market ― held Mondays mid-April through October ― and FirstHealth Fitness Center ― market host. The center is part of FirstHealth of the Carolinas, the award-winning, private, not-for-profit health care network headquartered in Pinehurst. Additional farmers markets are held at the Village Green Wednesdays and Saturdays. Check for COVID updates this year before heading out.
If not collaborate, maybe you are ready to congregate ― safely and appropriately, of course ― with friends for a day of shopping in the Village Center or a dinner date with drinks. The VOP is a VIP, very important place for this must-do mission.
A few strides on foot or horse trots by carriage ― a Pinehurst tradition ― from The Carolina Hotel, Holly, Manor or Carolina Villas and outstanding on-resort restaurants, lounges, grills and bars, century-old properties in the village post a modern mix of shopping and dining.
On Cherokee Road, try the Cali-cool apparel and Mod-O-Doc merchandise of Cool Sweats of Pinehurst or the home accessories and gifts of Cameron & Co. Ikonic Kollection is a makeover concept store with boutique, salon and curated fashions. Grab a good book from Given Book Shop, great coffee from the Roast Office or deliciously flavored olive oil or balsamic vinegar from The Pinehurst Olive Oil Co. before you rove. Didn't get far? The delicious aromas of Lisi Italian's authentic fare are the likely snare.
Turn onto Chinquapin to find the distinguished male clothier of Gentleman's Corner, the gorgeous jewelry of Gemma Gallery, fun brands of Cooper & Bailey's or timeless Italian leather handbags from Le Feme Chateau. Enjoy the globally inspired bar food and a well-deserved drink ― be it beer or spirits ― of Drum & Quill or an intimate Mediterranean meal at Theos Taverna. A soon-arriving and highly anticipated newcomer at 36 Chinquapin is DuneBerry Shoes Etcetera, owned by native Michiganders Jim and Ann Nash, now of Pinehurst. The couple purchased the property of the former Shoe Cottage, which with its 2003 closing, left a shoe retailer void in town. Not anymore!
Even more exciting, the Nashes' new Pinehurst location of its original to Leland, Michigan, apparel shop, DuneBerry, premieres April 1. While the mainstay Michigan store and online market are open, the Pinehurst location will be the brand's new flagship, the business pair said. At 120 Market Square ― the historic Fred Wood building and prior home to long-standing The Potpourri ― DuneBerry is a fun and whimsical shopping experience in upscale multigenerational family attire, highlighted by custom brands and sophisticated fashion. The store's new tech component, eShop, debuts here, too.
If meandering to Magnolia, Villaggio Ristorante & Bar is a can't miss. Situated inside the historic Magnolia Inn, purchased and renovated last year by restauranteurs Ron and Julie Milton, the venue features a fine dining experience of exceptionality. Fabulous finds await you at Eclectic in the Village store, while excellent vino is the lure for a Village Wine Shop & Wine Bar visit. Culinary enthusiasts appreciate The Purple Thistle Kitchen & Co., owned by Amanda Jakl and Greg Girard. This Village shop relocated on Chinquapin last year. Now in twice-the space, it offers an even greater variety of kitchen accessories, gourmet food, gift items, carefully curated cocktail ingredients and more.
A drive not far from the core Village brings you to 905 Linden Road and farm-to-table legend Elliotts on Linden. Chef Mark Elliot owns and operates this flagship restaurant in Pinehurst plus Ellliots Catering Company, Elliots Provision Company and The Sly Fox of Southern Pines. Add the iconic Ironwood Café, a destination restaurant on Midland Road known for steak, seafood and creative cuisine, to your must-try list. The quaint Sandhills Woman's Exchange is a vintage venue for lunch and crafts.
Destination shopping outside the Village Center is also alive and well; frequent the variety of shops, eateries and service providers in Olmsted Village or the unique gift and collectible commerce of Pinehurst Place. The Sandhills is proud of its pottery and the Seagrove Pottery of the Sandhills store on NC Route 5 gives customers more than 40 pottery artists to pick from, but who can choose?
The once dirt backroads of this lauded landscape became the greenways of golf greatness in the early 20th century. Now so much more, Pinehurst features converging ― and enticing ― paths of community, economy and lifestyle second to none.
For upcoming events in Pinehurst, visit vopnc.org.