The first James Boyd, a steel and railroad magnate from Pennsylvania, came to Southern Pines around the turn of the century. He purchased twelve hundred acres and created an estate that included stables, tennis courts, gardens and a nine-hole golf course. He named it “Weymouth” because it reminded him of Weymouth in England.
His grandsons, James and Jackson, were frequent visitors. Since they were very fond of fox hunting, they founded the Moore County Hounds in 1914. After World War I they divided the original home of their grandfather. The main part was pulled by mule across Connecticut Avenue and became the Jackson Boyd home. This is now the Campbell House, home of the Arts Council of Moore County.
About 1920, the remaining portion of the original home was redesigned and enlarged by Aymar Embury II, a Princeton friend of the Boyds who became a renowned New York architect and the official architect for Princeton University. He also designed many residences and buildings in this area, including Mid Pines Resort, Market Square in Pinehurst and several buildings on Northwest Broad Street in Southern Pines. James and his wife Katharine Lamont Boyd lived in the gate house until their home was completed. It was there that he wrote and Katharine typed the manuscript for his first and most famous novel, Drums, which was published in 1925. A deluxe 1928 edition was illustrated by the famous artist N. C. Wyeth.
The Boyds entertained extensively and Weymouth became the center of a very lively social life in the 1920s and 1930s, with literary friends such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Paul Green and Sherwood Anderson. Boyd became one of America’s outstanding authors of historical novels. Drums was followed by Marching On (1927), Long Hunt (1930), Roll River (1935) and Bitter Creek (1939). He also wrote poetry and short stories.
The Boyds were active in the community, supporting Moore County Hospital (now First Health) and the Southern Pines Library. They donated property to establish Penick Village. In 1941, James Boyd purchased the local newspaper and became editor of The Pilot, and when James died in 1944, Katharine assumed management until 1969 when it was sold to Sam Ragan, a well-known North Carolina journalist and poet. In 1963, Katharine Boyd gave a wooded tract to the state of North Carolina which became the Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve. When Katharine died in 1974, Weymouth was left to the Sandhills Community College.
James and Katharine are buried in Bethesda Cemetery near Aberdeen. They had three children: James, Jr., Daniel and Nancy.
The Friends of Weymouth was chartered as a nonprofit corporation in 1977 and purchased the home and grounds in 1979 to establish a cultural center. The Boyd House and remaining acreage is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and was awarded a certificate of achievement by the National Wildlife Federation in 2003.
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