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The Hurleyville Project

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

It’s a small town Cinderella story. It’s how a renaissance can happen, in the most unlikely of spots and with the most unexpected constellation of partners.

First, let’s travel back in time to the 1880s — John Hurley, the hamlet’s namesake, built his simple, hemlock bark-roofed house. Hurleyville grew up from there because it was on the main route between the bigger towns of Liberty and Monticello. Its economy centered on dairy farming and small town life. Hurleyville was a station stop along the Ontario & Western Railway (O&W) until 1957 when cars became the preferred mode of transportation. Borscht Belt fame came to Hurleyville’s Columbia Hotel, the oldest continuously operating hotel in the country when it closed in 1969 (opened by the Knapps in 1891). The hotel, which boasted a panoramic view from atop the town hill, could accommodate 150 guests by 1900 and 330 when it closed. The end of the Golden Age took Hurleyville by surprise and the resort fell quickly on hard times, bankruptcy and disrepair. It burned down in 1971. The town’s mojo faded with it.

Fast forward a few decades. Just a few miles down the road in Monticello, the Center for Discovery, a residential facility for children with developmental disabilities, was evolving. Under the long-time leadership of Patrick Dollard, the center had grown from 30 to 1,500 full time staff, and with that growth a vision for completeness. The Hurleyville Project, a collaboration between area residents, the Center for Discovery and other partners, reinvented the town’s road map to embody an inspired model of healthy living for people, the land and the local economy.

Now, Hurleyville is in a class by itself. Take a look under the hood. The Maker’s Lab welcomes artists for up to three-month residencies, as well as the local community to turn ideas into reality using state-of-the-art equipment like 3D printers, video production studios, a wood shop and a ceramic studio. The Hurleyville Arts Centre houses a state-of-the-art theater and space for arts programming. The Hurleyville Market sells high-quality local, organic food and goods from local artists. Thanksgiving Farm engages and feeds the Center’s residents and includes 300 community members as part of a weekly CSA from June to November. Other businesses have thrived in this environment too: Casella’s Salami Factory and Butcher Shop, The Pickled Owl (a restaurant), The Hurleyville Sentinel (a revived newspaper that is free to all) and a 9-mile former railroad trail (The Rail Trail), revitalized for the community to ride bikes, hike, ski and enjoy nature.

In this rural corner of Sullivan County, the world is watching Hurleyville. It is an exemplary model for an inclusive and thriving community that fosters healthy living where the result is a powerful magnet attracting new residents and visitors from around the world. Don’t miss out on this gem.

XOXO Farm Girl

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