Burn Brae Mansion was built in 1907 by Margaret
Ross MacKenzie Elkin as part of the estate of George Ross MackKenzie,
third president of the Singer Sewing Machine company, who made
his fortune as confidant and advisor to Isaac Merritt Singer,
the company's founder.
Upon George’s death in 1892, with an estate
valued at $3.5 million, seven of his children built elaborate
summer mansions in Glen Spey. Margaret and her husband Charles
Elkin built Burn Brae Mansion as the last family mansion and one
of only three still surviving. It is believed that the house was
designed by prominent architect Henry J. Hardenberg, who worked
on a number of projects for Singer executives.
Margaret continued her father’s tradition
of donating to many charities, and she enjoyed throwing lavish
parties. She outlived several of her children, as did her parents,
including her daughter Elsey, named for her grandmother, who died
at 9; her namesake Margaret; Charles Jr. who died at 34; and grandbaby
Levi, who died upon birth.
Charles Elkin was an engineer and inventor and
held several patents including the Elkin Hose Clamp and for the
mouthpieces on pipes and cigars. He also had a spring water bottling
works behind the mansion near the woods. He was an accomplished
Burn Brae Mansion has had five owners since the
Elkins, and over the years it has served as a boarding house,
a tea room during prohibition, and a bed and breakfast. The current
owners, Mike and Pat Fraysse, have lovingly restored the character
of the home and brought back many of the original elements. They
currently operate the house as a bed and breakfast, along with
a 12-room motel on the site of the former horse stables.
At least the last two owners – whose combined
ownership spans more than four decades – and their guests,
have reported unexplained occurrences, such as doors opening and
slamming, children’s voices, balls bouncing, and the apparitions
of a woman in white, a man in turn of the century clothing, and
a more modern man in overalls. Visitors also often report the
sounds of animals when no animals are present and the distinct
sound of an organ playing, when there is no organ in the house.
More recently, an elderly couple in their 90s,
the Hapijs, both died in the house. Guests say that they can still
see them from the front yard playing chess by the big window,
hear his classical music and smell her daily baking.