William Bradbury was well known for composing many of America’s greatest old Hymns. Bradbury was also a conductor, organist and music editor, and his wealth allowed him to provide financial backing in several prestigious piano manufacturing firms.
In 1854, William Bradbury entered into partnership with Ferdinand Lighte and Henry J. Newton, forming the partnership of Lighte, Newton & Bradbury. The firm was quite successful and experienced rapid growth. In 1858 Henry J. Newton withdrew from the partnership and E. G. Bradbury, brother of William Bradbury, was admitted to the firm. The firm was then reorganized as “Lighte & Bradbury”.
Ferdinand Lighte left the firm in 1864 at which time William Bradbury independently formed the “Bradbury Piano Company”. The master piano craftsman Freeborn G. Smith was appointed superintendent and general manager of The Bradbury Piano Company. As William Bradbury’s health declined, F. G. Smith succeeded to Bradbury’s interest and goodwill in the business. William Bradbury died in January, 1868 and F. G. Smith continued to operate The Bradbury Piano Company for many years with great success.
Mr. Smith successfully marketed Bradbury pianos to clergy, churches and universities, building a superior reputation for the Bradbury brand name nationwide. The firm originally built primarily square grand pianos, but as the 19th Century grew to a close, upright pianos and grand pianos were added to their product line. In the early 20th Century, The Bradbury Piano Company added several successful lines of player pianos as well.
W. P. Haines gained control of The Bradbury Piano Company in the early 1920s. During the Great Depression, Both W. P. Haines and Bradbury were ultimately absorbed into The Winter Piano Company. “Bradbury” pianos built by Winter after 1930 were primarily small console and spinet style pianos but also included a limited number of very small baby grand pianos. Winter discontinued the W. P. Haines and Bradbury brand names in about 1950.
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19th Century Newspaper Article Featuring The Bradbury Piano Company, Circa 1863
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