Ninigret Park

About this Location

The Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory are dedicated to environmental stewardship and delivering environmental education to people of all ages, with a primary focus on marine and aquatic habitats and the night sky.


Shortly after the U.S. Naval Auxiliary Landing Field closed in 1973 the land was deeded to the town of Charlestown for use as a park & wildlife refuge. Visionaries saw this as an opportunity to establish a nature center as a memorial to Edwin F. “Frosty” Drew that would help people to develop an appreciation of, respect for, and a connectedness with the natural world and serve as a gateway to the new Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge.

The site that was chosen for the new nature center overlooked a freshwater pond on the southern boundary of the new park. The building chosen had been the Chief Petty Officer’s residence and had not been used since the U.S. Navy left Charlestown in the early 1970s. It was in need of extensive improvements and modification.

The building was moved to its present site by the town of Charlestown and sealed from the weather. The Frosty Drew Memorial Fund directed the development of the project and solicited funds. Businesses donated materials, and many volunteers and town personnel helped with the work. The Frosty Drew Nature Center was the first building to open in the new park, on July 3, 1983.

Since 1983, we have made many improvements to the Nature Center and its grounds. Then, in 1988, we added the Observatory, where many have developed a lifelong interest in astronomy. In 2010, we added the John G. Drew Sky Theatre to give more people the opportunity to enjoy astronomy.

About Ninigret NWR

See all hotspots at Ninigret NWR

Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge is one of five national wildlife refuges in Rhode Island. Established in 1970, it consists of 409 acres of diverse upland and wetland habitats including grasslands, shrublands, wooded swamps, and freshwater ponds. You may enjoy an excellent view of Ninigret Pond, the largest coastal salt pond in Rhode Island, from the observation platform at Grassy Point. For the birding enthusiasts, over 250 species of birds have been recorded at Ninigret. Also, refuge shores support a large diversity of marine life such as blue crab, bay scallop, and winter flounder.

The parcel of Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge where the Kettle Pond Visitor Center is located is referred to as the headquarters unit. Purchased in 2001, this parcel of forested uplands is home to pitch and white pines, black and white oaks, blueberry shrubs, sweet fern, and princess pine. Hiking along the trails offers visitors a chance to witness visual reminders of the great ice sheet, see changes in the seasonal vernal pool, and views of Watchaug Pond.

Content from Official Website, Ninigret NWR Official Website, Ninigret NWR Trails webpage, and Rhode Island Coastal Birding Trail