The Wonderous World of Weymouth
06 Apr 2020
Open jam sessions and a Songwriters Circle
By Aimee Wagstaff » Photos by Mollie Tobias
As an artist, writer, and musician, much of my creative spirit can be attributed to my childhood endeavors: Creating animal sculptures out of the clay dug from our backyard, painting ornaments and sugar cookies around Christmas time, writing love poems inside Valentine’s Day cards, and singing and dancing to the music that spilled from my grandparent’s record player. Their house was a magical place where I could express myself freely, where I was encouraged to be artistic. I have many fond memories of visiting the local attractions with my grandmother, and the Weymouth Center and Campbell House left a profound impression on me.
I remember being awestruck as we approached the historic mansion — the Boyd House — situated in the most beautiful woodland. My grandmother walked me through the gardens that were bursting with life and color and told me of the beautiful old house that was reserved as a writer’s retreat, and for all sorts of interesting events. I imagined myself as a writer-in-residence, strolling the grounds while pondering the questions of the universe before articulating them in a poem or story. I was inspired and empowered to pursue writing from that point on and made it a life mission of mine to one day stay there and experience all that I’d imagined.
My love for writing only grew stronger as I studied the great authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald who I discovered had been a friend of James Boyd, the original owner and founder of Weymouth House. I spun poetry into songs, and my new interest in songwriting took me to London where I studied contemporary music. When I returned to my roots in Pinehurst, I was even more inspired by the artistic landscape of the surrounding county. The arts culture that I never really noticed was suddenly all around me, and I felt like a part of it. On my first visit to the Campbell House, I was enthralled by the art that hung on the walls, the abstract and the realistic. Once again, I envisioned my own art featured in the galleries and was inspired to paint again, to express my unique perspective on canvas.
After some research, I came to understand that much of the creative culture of this region can be traced back to Weymouth, which has transitioned through the decades from a home to a center for the arts and humanities. When James Boyd built his Colonial Revival frame house at the turn of the 20th century, he made a point to preserve and protect the land surrounding it. In the 1920s and 1930s, Weymouth helped launch the “Southern Literary Renaissance” and became the place of hospitality for writers that it still is. James Boyd’s old study also is now home to the “North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame,” established in 1996.
From its conception, Weymouth turned its neighboring woods into a nature preserve, saving and sharing the beauty of the area with everyone. As it became a home of and for writers, Weymouth’s tranquil beauty became an inspiration and a “timeout” for those weaving a tale. Now, as a place for community events, it’s honoring a wide variety of artists by hosting performances of all kinds.
Weymouth Center has reserved the first Sunday of every month for classical music concerts, to honor ensembles of the highest caliber. The last Tuesday of every month is reserved for an Open Jam Session, which functions as a Songwriters Circle. Recently at the sessions in January and February, I was touched by the supportive atmosphere and enthusiasm from each participant. There was a diverse selection of classic and original songs, and even the spoken word poems were music to my ears. At one point, the 12 of us sang in harmony and I felt like I was part of a choir, the rich sound filling the room, giving me chills. I wish that more people were there to experience that, and so I encourage you, curious reader, to come out next time and share a poem or song of your own, or just to listen to the magnificent melodies that are spun in The Great Room.
I wonder if James Boyd and his wife Katherine, who would eventually become the editor of The Pilot, understood how much of an enduring influence they would have on our Sandhills community. It’s safe to say their example of putting forth daily efforts in pursuit of what they were passionate about demonstrates to this day the rippling effect that actions can far exceed a person’s lifetime.
Attending events hosted at Weymouth, indeed spreading the word, volunteering, and donating will help keep this center for the arts flourishing for years to come. Their website has all the information one could ask for, so check it out! For upcoming events, visit weymouthcenter.org.