The Hendrick Fisher Homestead is believed to be the oldest historic structure in Somerset County. The 1688 structure remains, although subsequent additions and alteration have changed the house from the original farmer’s house.
Recent restoration revealed mud and straw walls beneath an unusual lath and plaster construction and plaster walls with antique carved walnut and oak paneling. The beautiful inlaid oak and walnut floors, hand carved balustrade and spindles, of the staircase, along with a carved sandstone fireplace, add to the ambiance of this historic residence.
Hendrick (Visscher) Fisher Junior was born in Germany in 1697 and emigrated with his family, by the way of Holland, to the Colonies several years later. The family name, Visscher, was later anglicized to Fisher.
Fisher was the first of eleven children of Hendrick and Elizabeth (Lybete or Libshe Bries) Fisher. He and his siblings were baptized at the New Brunswick or Raritan churches, between 1723 and 1746. The family first settled in Piscataway Township across the Raritan River.
In 1721, Hendrick Fisher became a member of The Dutch Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and showing great leadership, became a deacon under the Revered Theodore Frelinghuysen.
Fisher was a faithful worker and leader in the church for fifty-eight years. Artifacts from his church life can be viewed in the Museum of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, located beneath St. Andrew Memorial Church. Pieces of furniture from the Fisher estate, including a bench, table, cabinet and chair can be seen in the entry sunroom of the Fisher Homestead.
First mentioned in 1740 in Somerset County, Hendrick Fisher held the following political offices:
- Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
- Member of the Colonial Assembly for 30 years and for some time its powerful leader.
- New Jersey Representative at the Continental Congress of 1765.
- President of the Colonial Assembly.
- Member of the Committee of Governors.
- President of The First Provincial Congress of New Jersey, 1775.
- President of the New Jersey Delegation to the Continental Congress.
- One of three members of the Stamp Act.
Hendrick Fisher was present for the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. He returned to his residence bringing with him a copy of the historic document.
On July 7, 1776, Fisher read the Declaration of Independence to the inhabitants of Bound Brook, New Jersey at the Frelinghuysen Tavern. Today Klompus Thread Shop on Main Street, west of Maiden Lane, Bound Brook, exhibits a plaque that marks this historic event.
In 1776, Lord Howe offered full pardon to those who would give up their allegiance to the American cause, excluding Fisher and three other uncompromising patriots. For his patriotism, Fisher was branded an outlaw and "enemy of the Crown".
In April 1777, the British army, on its way to New Brunswick, raided the Fisher Homestead, hoping to capture him for their King. Not finding him at home, they plundered his barn and livestock, resulting in losses totaling $707.50, a substantial sum in those days. Fisher died before the conclusion of the Revolution and his body rests in the family burial ground, in a special fenced section of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cemetery.
Today, the Fisher homestead is the property of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and is located on the grounds of the St. Andrew Center. The Center serves as the headquarters of The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and includes many points of interest.