By DAVID DROSCHAK
Whenever the architectural team of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore discuss Pinehurst No. 2 it’s not long before the two turn to the Tufts Archives, and how instrumental the museum – which is centered on golf, Donald Ross and countless other fascinating items – was in their restoration work on the famed course in the Sandhills.
The throwback project, which will be highlighted during the 2014 U.S. Opens, literally unveiled itself right before their eyes as they sat down at a small table in the Tufts Archives and began pouring over original Ross drawings, notes and photos of No. 2.
It was as if the diminutive Ross himself was present in the back of the Given Memorial Library off Cherokee Road, guiding his pencil over the yellowed paper to reproduce his most famous masterpiece.
“God, everything was so magnificent to look at,” Crenshaw said of Ross renderings, and black and white photos from the 1930s and ‘40s. “I can’t think of any place that even comes close to what Pinehurst has at the Tufts Archives. Whenever you go to a club and you may be part of reconstruction or doing a few things to spruce up courses the first thing you love to find is an old aerial of some period – and then you look for blueprints if you can find them. But artifacts are invaluable for history … and then bringing things forward.”
The Tufts Archives is regarded as one of the most unique and authentic “museums” in the world. Want to see a Ross autograph? There are plenty on hand. How about a set of clubs Ross hand-made for his 4-year-old granddaughter in 1913? Check. Even James W. Tufts’ marble and silver 19th century Artic Soda Fountain machine is front and center, and a favorite of elementary school children during tours of the archives.
The museum sells various items on site or posts online pricing for postcards, drawings and posters – even a limited amount of script money from the 1930s – to help fund various operation expenses.
But an expansion project will cost around $8 million, and the plan is to begin construction as soon as the 2014 Opens leave town.
Sure, it’s an ambitious goal, but those who have ever ventured into the museum as part of the yearly “foot traffic” understand its importance and historic significance to the Village of Pinehurst, and golf in general.
“Why are we doing this?” said Pat Corso, the executive director of the economic development firm Moore County Partners in Progress. “We’re supporting it because we need a heart and soul in our community.”
Plans for the expansion after the 2014 Opens forced Tufts Archives executive director Audrey Moriarty and her dedicated staff of volunteers to begin inventory this past summer. They’re still logging items as we speak. There are also approximately 150,000 images on hand, and Moriarty is more than halfway to digitizing them all.
“The Tufts had this sprawling resort and owned all of the buildings, so there were plenty of places to store things,” she said. “Richard Tufts’ attention to detail was amazing. We have ledgers in the basement from the hotel; we have ledgers from Ross that he signed when he came to visit.
The Tufts Archives is privately funded – not getting any federal or state money – and the Village of Pinehurst in the last decade has begun to offer financial support, making a large commitment to the expansion that will take the museum from 7,000 to 21,000 square feet.
The Village of Pinehurst has upped the ante and promised to donate $1 million toward the building, said Moriarty, who hopes to raise $3.5 million by the start of 2014.
“Even though we are privately funded we are the public library in Pinehurst, and the village is aware of that and realize if we were not here they would have to provide their own library and it would cost them a lot more than $1 million,” Moriarty said. “We offer a lot of community service.”
“We’re not like the Pro Football Hall of Fame with all these diamond and gold rings, but some things we have are truly valuable because once they are gone they are gone, they will have been lost in the annals of American history.”
The Tufts Archives/Given Memorial Library is certainly bringing in an impressive guest on April 5 to kick off its Great Expectations capital campaign with James Patterson, who has written 109 books and sold more than 275 million worldwide. By contrast, Charles Dickens wrote 20 books in his lifetime.
The area’s tradition that led to National Historic Landmark status began in 1895 when J. W. Tufts first built Pinehurst and then a few years later began a grand experiment when he installed the resort’s first nine hole-course. It continued with Ross, who until his death in 1948, designed and developed approximately 400 courses in Pinehurst and around the country.
However, the Tufts Archives is much more than golf and Ross. It details every twist and turn of the area that makes the free entry into the archives truly priceless and well worth a few hours of your time on a rainy winter day.
The Tufts Archives has more than 80,000 negatives from the John Hemmer collection. Hemmer was the official resort photographer for more than four decades from the late 1920s. His photos promoted Pinehurst on the front, sports and society pages of newspapers across the country. The maps at the archives include the original drawing for the layout of Pinehurst, created by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York. A leather case Ross used to keep his scorecard in is displayed as are ticket stubs to the 1925 Yale vs. Harvard football game at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Most of the items in the Tufts Archives are one-of-a-kind originals that can never be replaced, so placing a value on the museum is virtually impossible, said Moriarty, who handles some items with gloves to help in the preservation process.
“I was frightened when I first came in here and saw everything, and thought if there was a fire everything would be lost, so it was a pretty high priority for us to get everything digitized,” she said. “And we do have a disaster plan; if the place suddenly got a warning that in two hours there was going to be a hurricane or a mudslide what would you take? We’ve identified those items. I have a set of CDs at home, we have a set locked in our safe and then we have them digitized. I think we have them protected pretty well.”
Log on to www.tuftsarchives.org for more information.