About the Refuge

Fall on the refuge - USFWS.
The John Hay Refuge was established in 1987 when the Service acquired the former summer estate of John Hay, from his daughter-in-law, Alice Hay. John Hay was a politician and statesman, best known as the personal secretary to Abraham Lincoln, Ambassador to Great Britain, and Secretary of State. Mrs. Hay wanted the estate to be set aside “… for public use as an inviolate sanctuary for migratory birds, as a migratory bird and wildlife reservation…” The Refuge originally comprised 164 acres including the family residence, a gate house, lake shore house, and garage. In 2008, the Service transferred 84 acres, including all the buildings to The Fells, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Hay Family Estate. The remaining 80-acre refuge, when combined with The Fells property, includes the longest stretch of undeveloped shoreline on Lake Sunapee. There is a 0.9-mile interpretive hiking trail created in honor of John Hay’s grandson, also John Hay, who was a well-known naturalist in New England. Habitats include an expansive mature forest, a small meadow, shoreline on Lake Sunapee, and Minute Island, just off shore.