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Brief Pinehurst History

Pinehurst was America's first golf resort but is also a world-class destination for tennis, spa, meetings, special events and family activities.

The Pinehurst story began in 1895 when Boston Philanthropist James Walker Tufts purchased 5800 acres of ravaged timberland in the Sandhills of North Carolina. Once a beautiful pine forest, this land had been cut and used for its plentiful supply of building supplies and turpentine. Tufts bought this sandy barren wasteland for about $1 per acre.

Many thought Tufts a fool for this purchase but he sold his Soda Fountain company with the vision to build a health retreat-far away from the cares of the world. Tufts initially designed Pinehurst as a place where middle-class Americans could come, relax and recuperate from the difficulties of the day. Tufts thought he would create a New England style village with walkways and year round greenery.

Tufts hired the firm of Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot to help him with his dream and they created the master plan which is now Pinehurst. Chief designer Frederick Law Olmsted, was well regarded for his projects such as Central Park in New York. More than 200,000 plants were brought in, more than 47,000 were imported from France.

Construction workers and shippers of goods had begun referring to the settlement as “Tuftstown” or “Pinalia.” Tufts disliked both names and he wrestled with other names for his new creation. He reviewed a list of possible names submitted for a contest to name the development and decided that the name of Pinehurst was appropriate: "pine" for the beautiful trees and "hurst" a wooded knoll or plot of rising ground.

Tufts had completed a general store, dairy, boarding house and more than 20 cottages by the end of the first year. By December 31, 1895, the Holly Inn opened. In 1901 the Carolina Hotel opened and was immediately the center of all activities.

History of Gun Club and Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley, sharp-shooter and star of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, came to Pinehurst in 1916 with her husband, Frank Butler. Annie was in charge of the Pinehurst Gun Club, now known as Village Acres, and gave shooting exhibitions at the Carolina Hotel twice a week. Between 1916 and 1920 she instructed nearly 125,000 men and women in the art of shooting and marksmanship. She and Frank had positions on the hotel’s staff and Annie would give exhibitions and shooting lessons at the gun club and Frank was in charge of the skeet range.

Oakley’s performances in Pinehurst were free and, of course, wildly popular. Folks came from the hotels and resorts of the area but also drove in from the surrounding areas. She did a wide variety of tricks, riding in the back of a Model T Ford around the Harness Track and picking balloons off the car in front of her, shooting cigarettes out of Frank’s mouth and hands.

In the fall of 1922, the Butlers were involved in a car accident near Daytona, Fla. Their car overturned and Annie was ¬seriously injured. She crushed her hip and had to wear a leg brace for the rest of her life. She never made it back to Pinehurst. Annie's health continued to decline and on November 4th, 1922, she passed away. Frank lived only 17 days alone and died Nov. 21. Frank had died en route to Pinehurst.

Some say that Oakley made around $1,000 a week, a large sum in those days. Annie Oakley and Frank Butler had been careful with their money and sent a significant portion of that income to Annie's family in Ohio, particularly to her mother. She had also sent money to orphans and to others that she had met over the years. Annie was very generous with free passes to her shows, particularly to orphanages. Even to this day this type of pass is known in the theater business as an "Annie Oakley."