Blair House has stood on this site for over 150 years and 2016 marks the 29th season operating as a bed and breakfast, hosting guests from across North America and around the world. The house is “built in a transitional style with Italianate influences. It is tall with heavy cornerboards, tall pitched roof, numerous bays, extended Italianate style porch and deep cornices with heavy brackets”.
Blair House was built in 1860 for the young widow, Sarah Henrietta (Marks) Blair and her two sons, Livingstone and Frank. Henrietta was the granddaughter of Captain Nehemiah Marks, a founding father of St. Stephen who led a group of 200 United Empire Loyalists to St. Stephen in 1784. Widowed at age twenty-six Henrietta lived in St. Stephen until she was 93 years old. She sold the house in 1870 to the Honourable John McAdam. “It is one of the handsomest residences in town” wrote the St. Croix Courier newspaper at the time of the sale.
John McAdam was a prominent local lumber mill owner and politician in both Fredericton and Ottawa. The nearby railroad Village of McAdam is named for him. He was known as “Honest John” McAdam after being involved in questionable land deals with his brother-in-law, James Murchie. James Murchie’s former home became the Town of Milltown’s town hall and is now the Charlotte County Museum.
In 1886 ship owner and merchant Hugh McKay bought the house. Two of his sons, Hugh Dowling McKay and David Will McKay, were well-known local photographers with studios in Calais, St. Stephen and St. Andrews. Hugh Dowling McKay and his family lived in the house after his father’s death. The front parlour was his portrait studio. D. Will McKay moved his studio to St. Andrews. In 1896 D. Will McKay published three photographic booklets entitled “In Days Past”. The three photographic booklets, one for each of the towns of Calais, St. Stephen and St. Andrews, show public buildings, private homes and local scenes. The booklets were reprinted in about 1984 by Print’N’Press. A copy of each booklet can be found in our living room.
In 1946 the house became the home of Robert and Elizabeth Shreve and their family for fourty-one years. Elizabeth (Haley) grew up just down the street and Robert had a successful insurance agency at the house.
In 1987 David’s parents, Bryan and Betty Whittingham, started the bed and breakfast – “Blair House”. David took over in 1997. Betty and Bryan started many of the traditions that continue to be a hallmark of Blair House today – evening tea, English mixed grill breakfast, a warm welcome, relaxing atmosphere and friendly helpful service.
“It is one of the handsomest residences in town.”
St. Croix Courier, January 27, 1870.
“I know how hard it is to keep an older home – you make it worthwhile to the joy of others.”