When James Walker Tufts, a wealthy businessman from Boston, purchased around 6,000 sandy acres in Moore County in 1895, people called him crazy. The area had been clear-cut for timber
When James Walker Tufts, a wealthy businessman from Boston, purchased around 6,000 sandy acres in Moore County in 1895, people called him crazy. The area had been clear-cut for timber and turpentine, leaving what looked to most like a barren wasteland. But Tufts saw potential in the Sandhills’ sunshine and pine-scented air — first for a health resort and later a recreation center. He hired famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design a walkable village with gently curving streets and plenty of green spaces among the cottages, hotels, department store, and “casino” (a café and meeting place that, despite its name, was never actually used for gambling). Today, historic brick and wood buildings filled with galleries, shops, and restaurants are linked by Olmsted’s meandering streets, still the perfect place for a leisurely stroll.
The Carolina Hotel was part of the original plan for the village, and since opening on New Year’s Day in 1901, it’s become an icon of the Sandhills. For many golfers, a trip to Pinehurst Resort isn’t complete until they’ve had their picture taken with the famous topiary out front. Between rounds, guests and day-visitors enjoy drinks on the hotel’s wide, welcoming verandas and meals under the crystal chandeliers in its elegant dining room. At breakfast, pianist Gary Brown Jr. (below) fills the Carolina Dining Room with music, just like his grandfather Robert did for three decades. Brown knew from a young age that he wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. His family’s story is woven into the history of the hotel, and Brown keeps the tradition going, note by note.
Most mornings find the Given Outpost flooded with natural light, the scent of coffee beans, and the happy chatter of friends and neighbors. This bright and airy space has been a gathering place since it was built as a New Deal post office in 1934. Until the ’70s, there was no home mail delivery in Pinehurst, and residents would visit their postal boxes — and each other — daily at the busy brick building. After the postal service moved out in 2011, an outpost of Given Memorial Library moved in, trading stamps for stacks of donated books. Today, the Given Book Shop supports library programs and shares space with the Roast Office coffee shop. And on special occasions, the bookshelves are wheeled away, making room for wedding receptions, military retirements, and anniversary parties — the building continuing, after all these years, to connect the community.
Finding Theo’s Taverna is like crossing a threshold from downtown Pinehurst to the sunny Mediterranean: Just off Chinquapin Road, a short walkway passes behind a row of red-brick shops and opens onto a courtyard full of classical statuary, lush greenery, and tables beneath a pergola. Servers circulate between the patio and the restaurant — accented with deep, rich woodwork and high, vaulted ceilings — delivering plates of hummus and stuffed grape leaves, olives and feta, lamb shank and seafood pasta. Many dishes are prepared with the restaurant’s own extra-virgin olive oil, a family recipe passed down to owner Elias “Louis” Dalitsouris (below) from his father and grandfather. Now, he and his wife, Helen, split their time between North Carolina and the Dalitsouris estate in Sparta, Greece, where the fruit of their 4,000 olive trees is pressed and bottled, then sold back at the restaurant in Pinehurst — continuing a generations-old tradition.
Like any library, the front half of Given Memorial Library is filled with books. But the back half, home to Tufts Archives, overflows with stories: Of the business that earned James Walker Tufts his fortune, the Arctic Soda Fountain Company — complete with a 19th-century marble soda fountain (below). Of Tufts’s family, including grandson Richard (below), who inherited the resort and laid the groundwork for this museum. And many, many stories about golf. In 1898, Tufts hired a Scotsman named Donald Ross to manage golf at Pinehurst, forever changing the future of the one-time health resort. Now, Tufts Archives holds the largest collection of Ross memorabilia — the golf clubs, letters, and sketches of the man who eventually designed hundreds of courses, including the world-famous Pinehurst No. 2.
At one time, visitors to Pinehurst would arrive by train at the Southern Pines depot, several miles to the east, and ride the trolley down Midland Road, one of North Carolina’s first divided highways. The trolley is no more, but over the years, golf courses have sprouted up on either side of the pine-lined road. Today, Midland provides access to many of the area’s 40-plus courses, including ones designed by Donald Ross, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus, as well as Ironwood restaurant, a popular spot to hole up after playing a round. For those who seek the meticulous, storied greens of Pinehurst, a tradition more than 120 years in the making, there’s no better welcome than the “Fifth Avenue of Golf.”