Monhegan, Maine

Monhegan, Maine
Monhegan, Maine
—  Plantation  —
Monhegan Harbor in 1909
Monhegan, Maine is located in Maine
Monhegan, Maine
Location within the state of Maine
Coordinates: 43°45′59″N 69°19′5″W / 43.76639°N 69.31806°W / 43.76639; -69.31806
Country United States
State Maine
County Lincoln
Incorporated 1839
 - Total 4.5 sq mi (11.7 km2)
 - Land 0.9 sq mi (2.2 km2)
 - Water 3.7 sq mi (9.5 km2)
Elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 75
 - Density 87.5/sq mi (33.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 04852
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-46335
GNIS feature ID 0582600

Monhegan is a plantation on an island of the same name in Lincoln County, Maine, United States, about 12 nautical miles (22 km) off the coast. The population was 75 at the 2000 census. As a plantation, Monhegan's governmental status falls between township (unorganized territory) and town. The island is accessible by mailboat ferry (no automobiles) from Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor and Port Clyde.



The name Monhegan derives from Monchiggon, Algonquian for "out-to-sea island." European explorers Martin Pring visited in 1603, Samuel de Champlain in 1604, George Weymouth in 1605 and Captain John Smith in 1614. The island got its start as a British fishing camp prior to settlement of the Plymouth Colony. Cod was harvested from the rich fishing grounds of the Gulf of Maine, then dried on fish flakes before shipment to Europe. A trading post was built to conduct business with the Indians, particularly in the lucrative fur trade.[1] It was Monhegan traders who taught English to Samoset, the sagamore who in 1621 startled the Pilgrims by boldly walking into their new village at Plymouth and saying: "Welcome, Englishmen." [2]

On April 29, 1717, Monhegan was visited by the Anne, a pirate ship of the snow type. The Anne had originally been captured off the Virginia Capes in April by the pirate Samuel Bellamy in the Whydah, which wrecked in a storm on the night of April 26, 1717, off of Cape Cod. The Anne made it through the storm with another captured vessel, the Fisher (which was soon abandoned and the pirates aboard her transferred to the Anne). The pirates arrived at Monhegan on April 29, and waited for the Whydah, for the pirates had not see or hear about the Whydah wrecking in the storm of the night of April 26. The pirates eventually realized the Whydah was lost, and proceeded to attack vessels at Matinicus Island and Pemaquid (now Bristol). The pirates outfitted for their own uses a small 25-ton sloop that the pirates had captured off Matinicus, one that formerly belonged to Colonel Stephen Minot. They abandoned all the other vessels (including the Anne) they had captured and most of their prisoners at Matinicus on or about May 9, 1717, on Minot's sloop.[3]

Despite success as a fishing and trade center, Monhegan would be caught in the conflict between New England and New France for control of the region. During King Philip's War, dispossessed English settlers from the mainland sought refuge on the island before being relocated elsewhere along the coast. During King William's War, the island was captured for the French in 1689 by Baron de Saint-Castin. He destroyed the fishing fleet and burned the buildings, with many inhabitants escaping to Massachusetts. But even during periods when Monhegan was abandoned, its convenient offshore harbor remained a stopover destination for ships. The end of the French and Indian War in 1763 brought peace to the area, and on September 4, 1839, Monhegan was incorporated as an island plantation.[1]

In 1824, a conical stone lighthouse was built on the island by order of Congress and President James Monroe. Damaged by storms, it was replaced in 1850 by the present 48 foot (14.6 m) granite tower, with a fog bell station built in 1855 on nearby Manana Island. The island's 1,000 acres (400 ha) of good land encouraged agriculture, with potatoes the chief crop. But fishing was always the most important industry, whether locally or at the Grand Banks. Today, it still dominates Monhegan’s economy. From October 1 through June, fishermen harvest lobsters from the only lobster conservation area in the state of Maine.[4]

Artist colony

The beginnings of the art colony on Monhegan date to the mid-19th century; by 1890, it was firmly established. Among many early members who found inspiration on the island were summer visitors from the New York School of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, such as Robert Henri, George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, and Edward Hopper. Kent and Hopper both painted the 150-foot (50 m) northside cliffs at Blackhead:

Two of the early artists in residence from the 1890s, William Henry Singer (1868–1943) and Martin Borgord (1869–1935), left Monhegan to study at the Académie Julian in 1901.

Later members of the artist colony include Reuben Tam, Elena Jahn and Jamie Wyeth. Today the Monhegan Artists' Residency Corporation (MARC) tries to preserve the Monhegan artist colony by offering low-cost lodgings to selected artists who otherwise could not afford to visit the island.[5]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the plantation has a total area of 4.5 square miles (12 km2), of which 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) of it is land and 3.7 square miles (9.6 km2) of it (80.97%) is water. Monhegan is an island 1.75 miles (2.82 km) long and .75 of a mile (1.2 kilometers) wide, located in the Gulf of Maine, part of the Atlantic Ocean. Adjacent Manana Island helps form Monhegan Harbor.


As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 75 people, 46 households, and 21 families residing in the plantation. The population density was 87.5 people per square mile (33.7/km²). There were 177 housing units at an average density of 206.4 per square mile (79.5/km²). The racial makeup of the plantation was 97.33% White and 2.67% Asian.

There were 46 households out of which 13.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.6% were married couples living together, 4.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.3% were non-families. 47.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.63 and the average family size was 2.24.

In the plantation the population was spread out with 10.7% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 37.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 127.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 116.1 males.

The median income for a household in the plantation was $26,250, and the median income for a family was $53,125. Males had a median income of $36,563 versus $13,333 for females. The per capita income for the plantation was $20,568. There were 10.5% of families and 3.8% of the population living below the poverty line, including 10.0% of under eighteens and none of those over 64.

Outdoor activities

Summer months bring artists and tourists on several daily ferries to see ocean views. In the fall, it is a good place to observe migrating bird species.[citation needed] Much of Monhegan is uninhabited and free to explore on 17 miles (27 km) of dirt hiking trails.[7]

Sites of interest

Notable residents and semi-residents

  • George Bellows, artist
  • Abraham Bogdanove, artist, visited in 1918, and most of his artwork was of views of the island by the 1920s; he visited the island every year until his death in 1946
  • Jon Bogdanove, comic book artist
  • Frank Bruckmann, artist
  • Kate Chappell, businesswoman
  • Tom Chappell, businessman
  • Corlis Carroll, artist
  • Jay Connaway, artist, visited in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Lynne Drexler, artist
  • Charles Ebert, with his wife, Mary, made summer trips to the island, beginning in 1909
  • Ernest Fiene, artist
  • Robert Henri, artist who invited many of his students and artist friends (beginning with Rockwell Kent), to visit the island; first arrived in 1903 but didn't return again until 1911, when he invited George Bellows.
  • Edward Hopper, artist, one of the few who still visited the island during World War I, when others had safety concerns
  • Eric Hudson, artist, first visited in 1897 and built a home in the harbor
The town of Monhegan on Monhegan Island

See also

  • List of islands of Maine


  1. ^ a b Coolidge, Austin J.; John B. Mansfield (1859). A History and Description of New England. Boston, Massachusetts. pp. 211–212. 
  2. ^ Porter, Joseph W. (1888-1889). The Bangor Historical Magazine, Volume 4. Bangor, Maine. pp. 81–83. 
  3. ^ "Deposition of Ralph Merry and Samuel Roberts" Boston. May 11, May 16, 1717. in Jameson, John Franklin. "Privateering and Piracy in the Colonial Period: Illustrative Documents." New York: Macmillan Company, 1923, pp. 301-302; "John Newman to Governor Shute" Gloucester. May 12, 1717. Massachusetts Archives 51:290
  4. ^ Varney, George J. (1886), Gazetteer of the state of Maine. Monhegan, Boston: Russell, 
  5. ^ Ed Deci, "A Century of Monhegan Art"
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ Patricia Schultz, 1000 Places to see in the United States and Canada before you die Workman Publishing 2011 page 27

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 43°45′44″N 69°19′13″W / 43.76222°N 69.32028°W / 43.76222; -69.32028

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