Jonathan Fisher (1768-1847) was the first settled minister of Blue Hill, Maine. But that designation understates his dizzying array of talents. Fisher was also an artist, builder, farmer, scientist, surveyor, linguist, writer, husband, and father. At the Jonathan Fisher House, we preserve the 1814 home he designed and built, as well as collections showcasing his many interests and accomplishments.

Fisher painted his self-portrait (right) four times throughout his life, with three copies in possession of Fisher House and the fourth at the First Congregational Church of Blue Hill.

Architecture & Construction

Fisher was a self-taught architect, and we have his original design drawings—quite unusual for a home of a person of his income level.

The house itself is remarkable, unique in its design, construction, and level of documentation, but also representative of an important architectural era and socioeconomic class in Maine. See exterior photo in header above.

In addition to the house, Fisher built tools and furniture, some for his own use and others for sale to supplement his income. From rustic cabinets and rough-hewn but functional tools to polished pieces made for wedding gifts, Fisher’s skill with woodworking is apparent.


Jonathan Fisher worked as an artist in many media: oil, watercolors, woodcuts, drawings, and more. He copied from sources as well as working from life, often demonstrating his love of the natural world. His most famous painting, “A Morning View of Blue Hill Village,” was created with the help of a camera obscura of his own construction, on display at the Fisher House.

Fisher’s most commercially successful work was Scripture Animals, a book featuring his woodcuts of every animal mentioned in the Bible, often with engaging, memorable expressions. We hold his engraving tools, several of the original woodblocks, and many copies of different editions of the book.

Language & Writing

A true polyglot, Jonathan Fisher loved language and was fluent in at least six. He also invented his own “philosophical alphabet”—a shorthand that saved him paper and ink over the course of his life, and which has proven a stimulating challenge for future scholars! We are immensely fortunate that Fisher was a dedicated diarist, keeping a daily journal throughout his adult life, as well as writing frequent letters and composing more than 3,000 sermons.

The many dozens of books from Jonathan Fisher’s library in our collection came to Fisher from various sources: his parents, his student purchases at Harvard, and later acquisitions he made on his frequent trips to Boston. His library also contains pamphlets and sermons given to him by friends, which he bound together in single volumes.

Scientist, Surveyor, & Mathematician

Fisher studied at Harvard, where he became fascinated by scientific and mathematical concepts. His study of mathematics made a great impact on his artistic style through use of perspective. His skills as a surveyor were one of the major assets that he brought to Blue Hill, and he created many maps of the area. His keen observations of the natural world remain valuable to this day, including his drawings of sunspots made around the “Year Without a Summer” (1816-17).


Fisher had to grow his own food to survive. His journals abound with entries about potatoes, beans, and (his favorite) melons.

Today, we retain a pear tree top-grafted by Fisher—over 200 years old and still producing—and a reconstruction of Fisher’s apple orchard, based on his original map. These fruits are harvested each year and pressed into cider at our annual end-of-season celebration; photo taken at our 2023 event. Learn more about Jonathan Fisher events.

We tell visitors that no matter their passion, there is a way to connect with Jonathan Fisher, his family, and their stories!

Hannah Cyrus is the Board President at the Jonathan Fisher House. She has been on the Fisher House board since 2016, and while only an amateur historian, she is passionate about providing engaging, informative, and fun programs to bring Fisher's legacy to the community. She works as a public librarian and lives in Blue Hill.