Southern Pines, a small Southern town located within easy driving distance of North Carolina’s largest cities, the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, offers its diverse population a mild climate, a wide range of cultural opportunities and year-round outdoor activities for people of all ages, including tennis, hiking, horseback riding, soccer and softball. The area is probably best known, however, for its longtime connection to the venerable sport of golf.
Nearby Pinehurst Resort & Country Club has hosted no fewer than nine United States Golf Association championships since 1962, and, in June 2014, will be the first course to be the site of USGA championship competition in back-to-back weeks. Both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open will be held at Pinehurst No. 2, designed by Donald Ross in 1907, 12 years after play started on Pinehurst No. 1.
Pinehurst is not the only place to play, however. Moore County is home to 43 golf courses, all within a 15-mile radius.
Southern Pines, located in Moore County, not far from Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina’s three largest cities, was incorporated in 1887 and, according to the 2010 Census, has a population of 12,334. Besides tourism, its economy gets a boost from manufacturing, health services, education and retirement. Sandhills Community College offers continuing education classes as well as learning experiences that can lead to advanced degrees, while musical and theatrical performances, art exhibits and educational lectures abound.
Among other points of interest in Southern Pines is the Shaw House. The town’s oldest home was built in 1821 by Charles C. Shaw and his wife, Mary, where Morganton and Pee Dee Roads cross. Shaw was a first-generation Scottish settler, and one of his 12 children, Charles Washington Shaw, was the first mayor of Southern Pines in 1887. Now open to visitors, the home was in the Shaw family until it was purchased by the Moore County Historical Association in 1946.
The Southern Pines train depot, built in 1898 and still serving Amtrak passengers, played a key role in the town’s development. The arrival of the railroad provided a way for area businessmen to harvest and sell pine trees, then later served as a method of transportation for visitors to the town’s resort hotels.
Weymouth, a one-time country retreat that now hosts wedding receptions and community concerts, is another of the town’s attractions. Built in 1903 as the winter home of Pennsylvania coal baron James Boyd, Weymouth was a gathering place for prominent authors in the 1920s and 1930s. It is now the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities.
The downtown area, which grew to become Southern Pines’ center of commerce in the 1920s, now is a collection shops, many of them situated in historic buildings, each with its own story to tell.
Southern Pines’ significance in American History extends beyond golf, literature and historic buildings. As East Southern Pines grew, so did West Southern Pines, one of the first African-American towns in North Carolina. The two communities became one in 1931.