History

It is good to live with large and old trees.

Frances Andrews

In the early 1900’s, Arthur Andrews, a grain merchant from Minneapolis, bought forest land in northern Wisconsin for a family retreat. The retreat was named “Hunt Hill,” after his wife’s family name and the hill on which the cabin was located. As time went on, the farm just east of Hunt Hill came up for sale – Mr. Andrews bought it and asked the farmer and his family to stay on as the first caretakers of Hunt Hill.

Today the property includes nearly 600 acres, 7 miles of hiking trails, restored native prairie plants, two footbridges, a residential camp, and the two original Andrews family cabins.

The Andrews family members were strong supporters of the fledgling environmental movement, and daughter Frances developed a deep affection for wilderness, but especially for Hunt Hill. They worked with Aldo Leopold, Ernest Oberholtzer (“Father of the Boundary Waters”), Roger Tory Peterson, Owen Gromme, Ernie Swift, and many other conservationists. They helped establish the Wilderness Society.

In addition to Hunt Hill, the Andrews Family also owned land on Rainy Lake in the Boundary Waters and land that is now a part of Isle Royale National Park.

Frances became the sole heir to the Andrews estate and decided late in life to donate Hunt Hill to the National Audubon Society as a nature education center in northern Wisconsin. Her letter of intent can be read here. Frances lived to see her dream fulfilled, as the National Audubon Society successfully built and opened the “Audubon Camp of Wisconsin” in 1955. She died in 1961.

To read more about Frances, click here. Marjorie Savage and Mya Coursey present on the life of Frances in this video.

Nat'l Audubon Society's logo

1955: The National Audubon Society built and opened the “Audubon Camp of Wisconsin.” 

1986: After 31 inspirational years, the Audubon Camp was closed for financial reasons. Rumors of selling the camp to developers motivated a small group of Twin Cities and northern Wisconsin supporters to save the camp. In 1989, after incorporating as a non-profit corporation, the Friends of Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary (FOHHAS) secured a no-cost lease to reopen the camp under local direction. A broader environmental focus shifted to families, day camps for youth, and current environmental issues.

Land Acquisition Map
(click to enlarge)

2013: Thanks to support from donors, including the Grand Foundation, FOHHAS purchased 83 acres of land adjoining the original Audubon Sanctuary! The purchase of the “Seever Property” was favorably negotiated with the son of Joyce Seever, a former member and good friend of Hunt Hill. She passed away at the end of 2012. After the purchase, the property was cleaned up, the barn was stabilized, trees were planted along Pepper Creek to restore a buffer zone, a trail system was added, and a steel roof was put on the garage.

2015: FOHHAS, in partnership with NAS, closed on an additional 25 acres of land south of Hunt Hill Road.

2017: National Audubon Society (NAS) turned over ownership of the Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary property to the Friends of Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary (FOHHAS). This transfer has been a long range goal of FOHHAS since their incorporation in 1990. The transfer frees FOHHAS from constraints and uncertainty of leasing a property, while allowing the organization to focus on their future and growth.

Carolyn & Dave Cleveland
Million Dollar Match Donors

The Clevelands moved to nearby Long Lake in 2002. When they discovered Hunt Hill, they grew an immediate appreciation for the presence of such an important natural gem in their new community. Carolyn quickly became involved in the organization and has served on the FOHHAS board as a member and as its president. In June

2019: The Clevelands matched the entire $1 million raised to create a $2-million endowment for Hunt Hill. The $2 million is protected as principal and the interest off the earnings can be used by Hunt Hill. These funds helped to secure FOHHAS’s commitment to the community by allowing them to continue offering affordable programs, free hiking trails and look to expanding programming and updating facilities.

Marcia Grand at the dedication of the Richard Grand Recreation Hall

Since attending camp in 1982, Richard and Marcia Grand were incredible supporters of the Friends of Hunt Hill. Marcia generously donated a total of $1.46 million in honor of Richard, to help Hunt Hill achieve a number of projects around camp.

2018-19: Marcia Grand donated money to allow us to re-route the driveway around camp, build a maintenance shop, improve the parking lots, remodel and add on to the old Program Garage – now named the Richard Grand Recreation Hall. This large project resulted in a beautiful, year-round facility, featuring a warming kitchen, lobby, storage areas, bathrooms, heating and cooling systems, a sound system, two patios, and more.

2022-23: Both Marcia Grand and the Clevelands donated to build another new building: the Office & Showerhouse building. This building was built to replace the Farmhouse Office and the original showerhouse, that had been built in the 1950s, to create a safer, more accessible space for visitors, and a better work environment for staff. The new building includes a porch with a ramp for accessibility, a large reception area, offices, work rooms, a tornado shelter, a laundry room, public restrooms, and showers. 

We are doing this to support efforts to protect natural Wisconsin habitats, offer nature programming to all ages and provide a sanctuary accessible to all. Hunt Hill is a gem in our community where everyone can go to find solitude in nature.
Dave & Carolyn Cleveland