The Bradford Hotel, situated on Water Street in St. Andrews, has earned its spot as a Local Historic Place due to its architectural significance and influential role in the region’s hospitality industry. The hotel’s advantageous location in the heart of downtown St. Andrews, overlooking Water Street and the harbour, made it an ideal base for maritime-related businesses in its early years.
Constructed between 1784 and 1800, this imposing edifice was purchased by John Bailey in 1828 for 400 pounds from the estate of Robert Pagan, a well-known St. Andrews merchant and loyalist. In 1845, the building became the property of John Bradford, Bailey’s English son-in-law, who subsequently established the Bradford Hotel within its walls.
The hotel garnered praise not only for its distinctive architecture but also for its outstanding hospitality. Being among the first hotels in St. Andrews, it began receiving travelers over 160 years ago, predating the boom of summer tourists brought about by the advent of the railroad.
Upon John Bradford’s death in 1870, his widow sold the building in 1873. Nevertheless, the establishment continued its operation as a hotel, known as “American House,” for the remainder of the 19th century. Throughout a large part of the 20th century, the building served as a popular bakery, while also accommodating beauty salons and a variety of commercial businesses.
Currently, the once thriving hotel has been repurposed into The Whale Store/Boutique La Baleine, a souvenir shop that commemorates the Bradford Hotel’s historical contribution to St. Andrews.