Like many other towns, this one went through name changes before its incorporation in 1781: "Saville" in 1768, "Corey's Town", and then "Wendell", for one of the Masonian Proprietors, John Wendell. The marsh near Sunapee Middle High School still bears Wendell's name. The name "Sunapee" was substituted for "Wendell" by the legislature in 1850. The town, Lake Sunapee and Mount Sunapee share the name which comes from the Algonquian Indian words "suna" meaning "goose", and "apee", meaning "lake". The Indians called the area "Lake of the Wild Goose" because it is shaped like a goose, with the beak being in Sunapee Harbor.

Before Sunapee was a sizable tourist attraction, it was an industrial area. One factory produced 110 clothespins a minute. After the factories faded away, the major attraction became the pristine lake, once surrounded by a number of grand hotels. People used large ferries to get from hotel to hotel around the lake, but the ferries were mostly gone by 1915, when the automobile was widely introduced to the area. Lake Sunapee is the only lake in New Hampshire with three working lighthouses, which were originally built in the 1890s by the Woodsum brothers and are currently maintained by the Lake Sunapee Protective Association.

From The Gazetteer of the State of New Hampshire by Eliphalet Merrill and Phinehas Merrill Printed by C. Norris & Co. , Exeter, NH, 1817, pg 205.

WENDELL - a township in Cheshire county, formerly called Saville, was incorporated in 1781, and contains 447 inhabitants. It is bounded N. by Springfield, E. by Sunapee lake, which separates it from New London and Fishersfield in Hillsborough county, S. by Goshen, and W. by Croydon and Newport, comprising 15,666 acres, 2,860 of which are water. About 2,720 acres of Sunapee pond are in this town, and form a noble sheet of water. Here is the principal source of Sugar river. From the southern extremity of the pond in Fishersfield to the N.W. point of the north bay the distance is 7 miles. This is the length of the pond from N. to S. There are three small ponds here containing 140 acres.
The outlet of Sunapee pond is little more than 2 miles south of the centre of the town. The whole pond contains 4,095 acres. Sugar river flowing from it has a westerly course into Newport. There are in Wendell 3 corn mills, 4 sawmills and 1 clothing mill. Elder N. Woodward, a Baptist, was the first settled minister in this town. 


Sunapee Town Office
P.O. Box 717
Sunapee, NH 03782 

Sunapee Town Clerk  
Rte. 103B
23 Edgemont Road
Sunapee, NH 

Abbott Library 
P.O. Box 314
 542 State Route 11
     Sunapee, NH 03782      
(603) 763-5513 

Sunapee Historical Society Museum
Sunapee Harbor
Sunapee, NH 03782

Lake Sunapee Business Association
 Sunapee, NH 03782
U.S. & Canada 800-258-3530

Insider's Guide to the Lake Sunapee Region



Sullivan County


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