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Why Everyone Loves Nemacolin
By Shane Riggs for Johnstown Magazine

Nemacolin is the modern-day real-life example of Field of Dreams. Instead of baseball, Nemacolin is a creation born from the need for recreation.

“If you build it, they will come ….. golf, gamble, relax, unwind, and film TV shows here!”

In 1987, Joseph Hardy – who also founded 84 Lumber – took a look at a massive hunting lodge – then 19 years old -- out in the middle of nowhere near Uniontown and said “I’ll take it.”

His idea was to renovate the Tudor-style mansion on the property and offer world-class golf, and a resort in the wooded areas of Pennsylvania that would rival locations found the world over.

The entire Nemacolin property includes The Lodge -- listed with the Historic Hotels of America. Located at the center of Nemacolin, it was the hunting lodge of Pittsburgh businessman Willard F. Rockwell, who had it built in 1968. The resort is named after Chief Nemacolin, a native Delaware Indian who in 1740 trailblazed a route through the Laurel Highlands mountains between what is now Cumberland, Maryland, and Brownsville, Pennsylvania.

According to Nemacolin’s history, Pittsburgh industrialist Willard Rockwell established a private game reserve on the property called Nemacolin Trails Hunting Reserve in 1968. The Rockwells established a hunting lodge along with a golf course and airstrip. In 1970, the hotel was opened to the public under the name Nemacolin Inn.

In 1979, the property was sold to Cordelia Scaife May but was returned three years later to the Rockwell family when Kent Rockwell repurchased the property and opened it to the public. By 1987, the 400-acre complex consisting of one hotel and a nine-hole golf course was in bankruptcy. That’s when Hardy stepped in and bought the property. In the following years, Hardy and his family expanded the property to encompass 2000 acres.

In 2002, Hardy transferred full ownership of the resort to his daughter, Maggie Hardy Knox. In 2007, Nemacolin's boutique hotel, Falling Rock, received AAA Five Diamond status. In 2009 Nemacolin's fine dining restaurant, Lautrec, received a Five Star rating from the Forbes Mobile Travel Guide. In 2013, the Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin opened on the property. At first, only patrons of the resort could access the casino floor. But in 2019, Churchill Downs Inc. bought the casino operating business and paid a $1 million fee to eliminate the access fee requirement, allowing the general public to enter the casino at no additional charge.

Facing the growing pandemic and loss of visitors -- like many hotels and motels -- Nemacolin had to pivot, and during the height of COVID-19 in 2020, the entire facility was rented out to ABC-TV for the 25th season of the television show, The Bachelor.

Today, Nemacolin is a four-season resort that boasts the only five-star Michelin-rated restaurant outside New York. The resort is currently owned by Maggie Hardy Knox, president of the 84 Lumber Company who took control of the property when her father retired. And yes, he still remains very active. Legend has it the quaint chapel built on the property will be Hardy’s final resting place. He reportedly had the chapel commissioned for that very reason – so he could stay close to his creation.

Discover the history and heritage of The Lodge at Nemacolin here!
Read the full article from Johnstown Magazine here.

About Historic Hotels of America®
Historic Hotels of America is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels. Historic Hotels of America has more than 300 historic hotels. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Historic Hotels of America is comprised of mostly independently owned and operated historic hotels. More than 30 of the world’s finest hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented in Historic Hotels of America. To be nominated and selected for membership into this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance.