History of The Fair Barn

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History photo

The Pinehurst Fair Barn is the oldest surviving fair exhibition hall in North Carolina. It was built in 1917 for use as the Sandhills Fair, one of the major county fairs in the Southeast. It is located within the confines of the Pinehurst Harness Track, which is the oldest continuously operating equine sports facility in North Carolina. The Harness Track opened in 1915 and continues to serve as a winter training center for standard bred horses, as well as hosting dressage shows, hunter and jumper shows, an annual dog show, polo matches, and spring races. 

A tornado badly damaged the Fair Barn in 1932. The Barn was repaired and for decades afterwards it was used as a horse stable. In 1992 the Village of Pinehurst purchased the Harness Track, its associated barns and the Fair Barn. By that time the Fair Barn was in disrepair and sadly it was not able to be used to any extent as it had only a dirt floor, exposed wood walls, posts and bare roof trusses. 

In 1993 the Village Heritage Foundation (known at the time as the Pinehurst Historic Preservation Foundation) was formed as a non-profit foundation led by Mrs. Joyce B. Franke and her fellow board members, Parker Hall and Bob Gess. The sole purpose of the new foundation was to raise funds in order to restore the Fair Barn. Over the next decade the Foundation funded and managed a faithful restoration of the original building. Local firm Stagaard and Chao Architects developed the plans for the restoration. It was during the second phase of renovation work in 2001 that a catering kitchen/dressing room wing was added to the West side of the main building. It was also at this time that the main structural framing of the Fair Barn was repaired, new toilet facilities were added and a new stained concrete flooring was poured. The project was completed in early 2003 with the help of some additional Village funds. 

The Fair Barn is now the premier public indoor venue in the Sandhills. It is a multi-purpose community gathering place for exhibitions, receptions, private parties, auctions, educational clinics, business seminars, concerts, art and antique shows, and any other functions requiring a large, flexible space. It is now managed by the Village of Pinehurst Department of Parks and Recreation.  In 2017 the building celebrated its centennial year.