When you make the turn onto Carolina Vista Drive in the Village of Pinehurst, the picturesque, tree-lined street soon opens up to dramatically reveal one of the community’s signature landmarks, The Carolina.
This grand, historic hotel still exudes the same charm and tradition it did when it opened in 1901, only now it’s well equipped with the best 21st century amenities. The Carolina, one of Pinehurst’s showcase destinations and a National Historic Landmark, includes vinyl siding as a prominent component of its exterior cladding.
And The Carolina is just one example of the way planners in Pinehurst approach historical restoration. They value design over materials and maintaining the integrity of the look, not trapping themselves in a time warp.
“We have a lot of architectural eye candy here,” said Andrea Correll, AICP, Director of Planning and Inspections for the Village of Pinehurst. “There’s a strong sense of place that we protect by focusing on what’s important – the look and the character of our buildings. If materials were the only factor, we’d require builders to use square nails.”
Original Pinehurst cottages, such as “Hale Cottage” (circa 1895) and “White Shingles Cottage” (circa 1911), featured on the cover of Pinehurst magazine, have been accurately restored with vinyl siding. The pro shop at the golf course, a prominent real estate office in the center of the village and countless other homes and buildings feature low-maintenance, durable vinyl siding to preserve the character and charm that will forever define Pinehurst.
The history of the village is a proud one. Looking for a place with the right atmosphere to build a health-orientated resort, James Walker Tufts (head of the America Soda Foundation) stopped in the Sandhills area of North Carolina in the spring of 1895. He bought 598 acres of land for nearly $1.25 per acre around what is now the Pinehurst Village Center.
Tufts soon contacted Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York and the landscape designer of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., to help him create a first-rate resort. With the new plan in hand, 450 men began construction on what was originally referred to as “Tuftstown.” Tufts selected the name Pinehurst for his resort out of a list of non-winning names for Martha’s Vineyard.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pinehurst had a population of 9,706 people in the year 2000, nearly double its population of 10 years earlier. Many of these new residents come from across the country, if not the world, to settle in this “village in the forest.”
When asked what brought them to Pinehurst, many cite ambiance, community character and spirit as their reasons for choosing the area. If the current rate of about 230 new homes being built each year continues on the remaining vacant lots, the Pinehurst population may again double by the year 2020.
Correll and fellow Pinehurst Planner Molly Russell report there are about 2,800 vacant lots left for residential construction in Pinehurst. The village was originally established using a lowland, clapboard style. Today, brick, fiber cement, vinyl siding, stone and wood all can be found on businesses and residences within the village limits.
“What we ask is that if you’re building a house, fit in with the neighborhood around you,” Correll said. “But we’re also not in favor of restricting anyone unnecessarily. We want people to have choices.”
The village does have a set of architectural and design standards, and that’s exactly what they regulate – architecture and design. In fact, the five “design similarity” features stated in the document include (use of three or more of these qualify as design similarity):
“Planners in Pinehurst, and many other communities, are practicing a concept that we see as basic and logical,” said Matt Dobson, Code & Regulatory Director of the Vinyl Siding Institute. “It’s not the building material that makes a street, a neighborhood or an entire community look cookie-cutter. A series of houses with identical footprints, elevation and roof designs are going to look monotonous whether they’re clad with brick, vinyl, stucco, logs or mud.”
“Specifying architectural details, and not specific materials, is a win-win situation for our community itself and our residents,” said Russell. “We recognize new products and new technology that can successfully and beautifully recreate the spirit of the past, without literally living in the past.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, vinyl siding is the number one choice for homes at price points up to $250,000, and second only to stucco at all price points above $250,000. With the ability to withstand high winds and resist heat, cold and moisture, vinyl siding retains its original appearance and performance capabilities over time. Warranties offered by vinyl siding manufacturers are among the longest in the cladding industry.
In addition, re-siding a house with vinyl ranks among the best home improvement projects for cost recovery. In 2005, homeowners who had re-sided their homes with vinyl recovered on average more than 95 percent of that cost when selling.
Still, some residents in Pinehurst choose to clad their homes with old-fashioned materials. But that’s their choice, and that’s another reason why planners believe the community is so appealing.
“We’ve had cases where homes have been restored with wood, too,” said Correll. “Mainly those are extremely wealthy year-round residents who have the time and money to keep up with the maintenance. But that’s not the case with everyone. That’s why we provide for choices like vinyl siding and other types of cladding.”