29 Sep 2020
As Pinehurst celebrates its 125th anniversary, Audrey Moriarty’s mastery shines at The Tufts Archives
By Lesley Berkshire Bradley » Photos by Mollie Tobias
How much has Pinehurst changed in 125 years? Ask Audrey Moriarty. As the Tufts Archivist, she is charged with keeping the collective memories of Pinehurst since its founding in 1895.
When Moriarty first arrived in Pinehurst in 1979, the enormous Holly Inn at the center of the Village sat abandoned and housed excess golf carts — not hotel guests — and the town was empty by 9 pm.
A lot has changed since she arrived.
Back then, she was a super-parent volunteer, always at the school, who became a substitute teacher when the band teacher didn’t show up for class. Thus, began years of working in Southern Pines schools.
She was in the right place at the right time when the middle school needed a new librarian. Ready for a change, Moriarty agreed to go back to school in the evenings to get her Masters in Library Sciences, requiring a commute to classes in Durham on a two-lane road. This was long before virtual classes existed.
She was given a major charge...Get the teachers and kids into the library!
“And, boy, did we!”
She used critters to get school kids in the door....the library became home to South African Frogs and an Albino Hedgehog.
And she played music...albeit classical...so the library was not full of ‘shushes’ and ‘be quiets’, and she set up clever displays to inspire the kids.
She became the chill librarian and all the kids wanted to come to the library. She even was trained as the county’s first computer instructor... on an Apple 2E. You couldn’t get much hipper than that, at the time.
All the students called her ‘Mom’ and she knew all of their names.
“Matt, Marcus, Larry....I see these people today and we still remember one other and they remember the library.” She has always had a head for details and information.
No surprise then when The Tufts Archives asked her to be their Archivist.
“I thought it could be really cool.”
She was given a familiar charge...get people into the Archives.
And, she did.
In 2019 alone the Archives welcomed nearly 4000 visitors from 44 states and 18 countries.
When she first sat at her Archivist desk in 2002, everything was manual.
“There were five big books”; it was a paper archives. And books were still checked out using stamped cards. And there were thousands of photos in the basement, of which only 5% were accessible.”
And so, Audrey started to add, merge and purge. She automated collection. “We are still scanning in images today!”
She focused the collection on items related directly to Pinehurst or Donald Ross, the architect of the famed Pinehurst golf courses…scorecards, flags, course drawings, golfer photos and more.
She created calendars, posters, postcards and enhanced display, and even installed green golf carpet, to “get people in here.”
All the while she was deep diving into the history of Pinehurst. Plowing through old publications and photos.
It helped that she had spent a good bit of time traveling to golf tournaments with her husband, then a photojournalist for Golf World magazine. She understood the sport for which Pinehurst was so well-known, and she had met many of the major players of the time, visiting many preeminent courses through the years.
“I would look through a stack of photos and I’d recognize the faces and say, ‘Oh, that’s Miller Barber on the seventh hole of number 2!’ ”.
Today she wears three hats: Executive Director, Librarian and Archivist for the Given Memorial Library and Tufts Archives. And she manages a staff of seven. When she is not elbows deep in historical material, she is adding books to the library collection or cultivating the new Given Book Shop.
After 18 years at the Given Library and Tufts Archives, she is well-known throughout the area and throughout the national golf community. Golf course architects across the US contact her for information on the old Pinehurst golf courses to help inform their designs for new and updated courses. Architect Gil Hans spent a good deal of time in the Archives when he was working on the recent redesign of Pinehurst No.4.
Golf magazines and newspapers request information all the time. There are thousands of requests each year. The Tufts Archives offers the first 30 minutes of research for free and then starts charging. And images are also a source of revenue. “The interest in our images and archival information spikes around a Pinehurst US Open year,” explains Moriarty.
If that is any indication, then the newly announced USGA headquarter relocation to Pinehurst along with five planned US Open Championships at Pinehurst Resort starting in 2024 should keep the interest in Pinehurst archival information, and Moriarty’s expertise, running high!
“The Archives serves the history addicts, the golf addicts, the skimmers...they walk through in 30 minutes and are satisfied...and the deep divers stay awhile.”
Moriarty is particularly well-known for her incomparable knowledge of the original Pinehurst Cottages and is in high demand to speak at events and share her expertise. Not surprisingly, The Village Heritage Foundation relies on her to help curate the annual awards for Historic Preservation...so far awarded to 22 historic homes
Garden Clubs want to know about the Pinehurst flora and fauna, and the Olmsted village design. Golf groups like Moriarty to focus on the history of the courses, or on Donald Ross, or on Thistle Dhu Cottage and its original miniature golf course. Local schools, the Rotary Club, the Military Officers Association, the Questers, and Our State Magazine have all enjoyed an Audrey Moriarty speech about the history of Pinehurst.
And four times a year, Moriarty leads her celebrated walking tours of Pinehurst. She covers the major historic homes, the plantings, the Olmsted landscape architecture style and the original cottages.
Besides architecture questions, the audiences on her tours and at her talks are particularly interested in the stories about famous, and sometimes, notorious people. The stories about who was born, lived and died in the cottages. For example, the intriguing and tragic story about Elva Statler Davidson, the heir to the Statler hotel fortune, who, in 1935, died mysteriously in her garage and fingers pointed to her husband, all detailed in the book Death of a Pinehurst Princess by Steve Bouser former editor of the local Pilot newspaper.
President Harry Truman visited General George Marshall (author of the Marshall Plan and Nobel Peace Prize winner) in his Pinehurst cottage. Annie Oakley worked at Pinehurst Resort and was a major draw for visitors of the time.
Celebrated pilot Amelia Earhart was one of many distinguished visitors to the area in the early 20th century. Del Cameron, the late Hall of Fame harness racing driver and trainer, wintered for 30 years in Pinehurst, training horses.
“I have read all of the old Pinehurst Outlook magazines for great stories to tell,” adds Moriarty. “There is a deep, deep history to this place, and the history is still going.”