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Sat March 30, 2013
Keeping History Alive At The Fells
John Hay was private secretary to Abraham Lincoln and secretary of state under Theodore Roosevelt. His summer estate on Lake Sunapee was a masterpiece of architecture and of horticultural artistry. In 1987, the estate was deeded to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and opened to the public, and recently became a private non-profit offering programs, tours and classes. David Bashaw is a volunteer docent, guiding tours at the Fells.
David: The original home was built in 1891. John Hay's ancestors were from Scotland, and "Fells" is a Scottish word for "grazing land" or "pasture." So originally, it was this rough, rocky, grazing land, and a lot of the gardens were built in the 1920s.
I became involved with The Fells a couple of years ago. My wife and I move just five minutes up the road, and we were interested in volunteering here after we visited it for the first time. It just struck us as such a unique place, so peaceful. Almost like stepping back to a moment in time.
This place really is unique. We have the wonderful history through John Hay, and the great architecture of the house; it also has these beautiful gardens, especially the rock garden. we have over 80 acres of wildlife trails.
Places like this, a beautiful summer estate home one of the few examples left here on Lake Sunapee that's available to the public. This is something that I want to have here for future generations.