Local touches at every turn define The Bradley, the new boutique hotel in downtown Fort Wayne. It opens at 4 p.m. Thursday and rooms are already booked for this weekend. Before the grand opening, WANE 15 got a first look inside and a tour with co-owner Barbara Bradley Baekgaard.
“We’ve been working so hard. It’s really exiting and I’m really proud of it. It’s really what I had envisoned,” Baekgaard said.
Baekgaard, Vera Bradley’s co-founder, and hotel developer Provenance designed the boutique hotel to be unique and full of local art.
“It’s a great combo of local meets what we do well, which is we illuminate originals. It’s art. It’s people,” Katy Durant, president and CEO of Provenance, said. “We like finding those special gems and putting them in hotels so our guests from around the world can figure out exactly what Fort Wayne’s all about.”
Several pieces of art throughout the hotel were done by Theoplis Smith III, known as Phresh Laundry, who is already known for his murals downtown.
Right off the main lobby is a rotating art gallery. In a partnership with Purdue Fort Wayne, it will showcase work by students, faculty and alumni.
“We’re so thrilled for this opportunity to be part of the thriving art scene in downtown Fort Wayne. This allows us to have a presence and be a part of that,” Rebecca Coffman, the chair of the PFW Department of Art, said.
The Bradley has 124 guest rooms and nine suites. Each of the suites is decorated differently and named after an Indiana city. The three meeting rooms are named after area counties, and total 2,000 square feet.
Construction on the hotel started in May 2019. Work was delayed for a bit last year when they, like most builders, had trouble getting building supplies and materials.
When the hotel opens on July 15, Birdie’s will be open from 4 pm to 10 pm daily. The restaurant features indoor seating as well as an open-air rooftop bar.
“My grandchildren call me Birdie … because I like birds,” Baekgaard said.
Full of whimsy, the artwork is all birds and rattan birdcages line the entry hallway. Big garage doors in the back open, allowing the entire restaurant to feel like it’s outside. The outdoor rooftop bar has heaters and a fire pit.
“It’s warm and cozy and fun. It has the exact feel I hoped we’d have,” Baekgaard smiled.
Arbor, the main restaurant, will just serve breakfast from 6:30 am to 11 am to start. Lunch and dinner service will be added. Arbor’s coffee bar also features local Utopian Coffee.
“You’re going to feel like you’re family. You’ll feel like you’re a guest in Barb’s guest house,” Zach Miller, The Bradley general manager, said. “You’re never going to see a hotel like The Bradley. It’s unique.”
A Barbara Baekgaard signature, the hotel also has unique wallpaper. WANE 15 toured Barb’s home in 2019 before the hotel groundbreaking where she showed us her inspiration for the hotel.
“I love the [main lobby] restrooms. How often do you go to dinner somewhere and say, ‘Oh you have to see the restroom.’ And we did the men’s room too,” Baekgaard said.
The women’s restroom wallpaper has the state flower, a peony, the state bird, a cardinal, and the Fort Wayne skyline all in a floral pattern. Vera Bradley turned that print into a bag, which will only be sold at The Bradley.
The men’s restroom wallpaper features a fun design of unique canes.