Discovering Singer’s Hurleyville Connection: August 2021

By John Simon
August 2021
HURLEYVILLE—I recently worked with a small team on a lengthy project restoring two vintage Singer sewing machines from the 1950s, and one from 1910. Working on those machines led me to learn a lot about the Singer company, including some interesting connections to Sullivan County and to Hurleyville!
First, we discovered that the sewing machines we were restoring had been in use at Hall’s Bungalow Colony, which operated for many years on Main Street in Hurleyville. But that wasn’t the best part of the story, not by a long shot.
We also learned that the Singer Sewing Machine Company was a big part of Sullivan County history, because the company’s fourth president, George Ross Mackenzie, spent much of his later life at an estate he built in Glen Spey, which he first visited in 1869. In fact, Mr. Mackenzie founded and named Glen Spey, building a large home there he called the Homestead in the 1880s.
Just down the road from George Ross Mackenzie’s property, his friend William Fash Proctor, who was vice president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, built an elaborate estate he called Loch Ada. Some of his property is still in the Proctor family today.
Each of George Ross Mackenzie’s seven children built impressive mansions in Glen Spey that they used as summer cottages. Three of those mansions still stand in the community today. The newest of those, Burn Brae, which was built for Margaret Mackenzie Elkin in 1908, is supposed to be haunted and regularly welcomes visitors to witness the paranormal activity there. The George Ross Mackenzie elementary school in Glen Spey, part of the Eldred School District, is named for Mr. Mackenzie and built on what used to be his property.
And, a final connection: The Homestead School, which will open its Collaborative College High School here in Hurleyville next month, takes its name from George Ross Mackenzie’s estate.