Around here, with so many guests coming to “expect the unexpected”, many have come down with a case of “who done it.” Well, when it comes to unexpected and unparalleled service, which has become quite expected from our guest, one team comes to mind: The Butlers.
For many of our guests, their butler has become part of their Nemacolin Family. But, one butler in particular stands alone. He is not a Chateau Butler or a Falling Rock Butler, rather, he is a Resort Butler. He stands by quietly and ready to serve each and every guest. Silver tray in hand, he is always there just as legend says he has always been. He is Marple.
When I started at Nemacolin over six years ago, I meet Marple for the first time. He is a classic old butler- a true steward of service. What I later realized is, that although I was getting to know him for the first time, he had been a part of my life since I was a little girl- since the first time my parents brought me to Nemacolin for a day trip. When I realized this, I was working under another curator, so I asked about Marple. His response: “Ah, yes. The Butler… So, you want to know about Marple. Mr. Marple Mayham that is. Well, have I got a story for you!”
Legend has it that Mr. Marple Mayham was the first Nemacolin employee. He was hired by the Rockwell family who first owned the property. The Rockwells were a wealthy family from Pittsburgh who vacationed here. In the beginning, the property was a private hunting reserve. But, as more friends and family retreated to the Laurel Highlands, the Rockwells thought it would be a good idea to open an Inn.
Marple was hired to serve the guests, which he did loyally for many years. A strict servant of Nemacolin’s guests and of himself, Marple set a very rigid schedule. Each morning before he would start his duties, he would rise early to bird watch. Alone, Marple would peruse the grounds, binoculars in hand. Then, at precisely 7 am each morning he would take his post in the main lobby entrance (now the Hardy Lobby). One morning Marple returned with a large log. Mrs. Rockwell questioned him about it and he politely replied, “It is just a new hobby. Never you mind.” And, she allowed him to go about his merry way. But, one morning Marple did not return at his scheduled time. Mrs. Rockwell became concerned and gathered the rest of the staff. They searched the property high and low, but could find no evidence of Marple bird watching that day. When they returned to the Inn they unexpectedly discovered something very expected: Marple, standing his post in at the main entry. But, as they approached they realized that what they were seeing was not really Marple, but a wood carved figure of him, his character captured down to the simplest detail as if his spirit were trapped inside! Mr Rockwell reached forward to receive his last of many deliveries from Marple: a small tented note reading only, “Promise Kept.” as Marple promised to be at work everyday to serve the Inn’s guests.
Today, Marple stands post out side the Cigar Bar in the main hallway of the Chateau Lafayette. Maybe you have never noticed him or maybe he is quietly posed in the background of some of your favorite Nemacolin snapshots. We’d LOVE to see them!
Now, you can believe the legend or not, it's up to you. Some prefer to think that Marple is merely an idea embodied by the creative and whimsical sculpture “Marple” by Jack Dowd. In fact, this “Marple” was purchased by Mr. Hardy for the resort along with several other works by the artist. Ironic, that this Marple is reportedly identical to the original wood piece that showed up upon Mr. Mayham’s mysterious appearance. Some will argue that Dowd heard the legend of Marple and then worked him into one of his characters, as the transfer of the resort property and Dowd’s creation of the sculpture both occurred in the late 1980’s. Others think that Marple was in cahoots with Dowd. Still others find it to be just a coincidence or an amusing little story.
So, next time you are here and something unexpectedly marvelous happens, you may wonder- “Who did that?” Chances are it was your Butler or any of the associates here at Nemacolin waiting to serve you. And if it wasn’t…. well, chances are that it was Marple!
If you’re heading to Nemacolin any time soon, be sure to pack you camera because The Butler Did It video contest is back! Maybe you’ll capture Marple on film during your Nemacolin adventure?
Art Collection Specialist
Hardy Family Art Collection