The Frosty Drew Memorial Fund, Inc., was organized in 1981 and incorporated in 1982. Our Bylaws state that we are constituted exclusively for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes. We develop and implement programs designed to educate the general public on a number of environmental and ecological subjects including an understanding of the natural world, the natural habitat of fish and wildlife, and astronomy.
The Frosty Drew Memorial Fund operates the Frosty Drew Nature Center & Observatory located at 61-62 Park Lane, Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI. Run by a volunteer Board of Directors, its operations are financed by memberships, private donations, grants, and fundraising.
In accordance with our priority to keep program fees as low as possible, our observatory is open to the public free of charge every Friday night and on special occasions.
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, a respect for, and a connectedness with the natural world and to 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.
Over 30 years ago we began from a vision, and we thank many for the realization of that vision. The town of Charlestown has been consistent in its support of the Frosty Drew Mission since our beginning. Organizations such as The Rhode Island Foundation, The Champlin Foundations, Prince Charitable Trusts of Chicago, Concerned Citizens of Rhode Island, and others, have supplied grants to enable us to build facilities, purchase equipment, and enrich our programs. Individuals and businesses donated materials, labor, and other support. The dedication and hard work of countless volunteers has also helped to carry out the work of Frosty Drew.
The Frosty Drew Nature Center & Observatory stands as a memorial to the dedication, enthusiasm, and hard work of “Frosty” Drew.
Frosty contracted polio as a child, a year before a vaccine was developed. After graduating from Brown University, he began his career as a writer. However, he soon became actively involved in efforts to preserve and protect the natural heritage of southern Rhode Island.
His gifts of leadership, public speaking, and private persuasion, as well as his tenacious adherence to his principles, earned him a place as spokesman for environmental concerns statewide. It is largely a result of his efforts in organizing and raising public awareness that Ninigret Pond and its surrounding areas remain as a priceless natural asset to the town of Charlestown and the state of Rhode Island.
He was active in many groups, including the Rhode Island Audubon Society and Concerned Citizens of Rhode Island. He also served as president of the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Littoral Society and chairman of Rhode Island's Commission on Energy.
In 1990 Frosty was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame for his contributions to the state's natural environmental heritage and the fame and distinction he brought to his state and nation.
Unfortunately, he did not live to see the fruits of his labor. He died in September 1976 at the age of 28.