Pear Tree House

An historic building which now operates as a public house and beer garden, the Pear Tree House lies at the western end of West Nicholson Street on the South Side of Edinburgh, a half-mile (1 km) south of the city centre. Built in 1749 as a residence for the merchant William Reid, one of the earliest developments expanding Edinburgh beyond its Mediaeval walls, it occupied part of Lady Nicholson's Park, with views to the southwest over The Meadows. In 1756 it passed to the judge Sir James Fergusson, Lord Kilkerran (1688 - 1759), and remained in his family until 1770. From around 1764, the upper storeys became home to blind poet Dr. Thomas Blacklock (1721-91) who moved in literary circles, with Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-84), Robert Burns (1759-96) and James Beattie (1735 - 1803) having enjoyed his hospitality. Around 1820, the Pear Tree House became home to Andrew Usher (1782 - 1855) and later the focus of his business. It was here that Usher became the first to commercially blend whisky, which he sold as Old Vatted Glenlivet. His son, another Andrew (1826-98) inherited the property and it eventually passed to the Edinburgh-based Distillers' Company Ltd. who bought all of Usher's whisky interests in 1919. The building continued as an office and store for J. & G. Stewart Ltd., a Distillers' Company subsidiary, until 1972. B-listed since 1970 and having lain unused for several years, the building reopened the popular Pear Tree bar in 1982, run in conjunction with the Counting House function suite above and behind, and the Blind Poet bar adjacent. It also serves as a minor venue for the festival fringe.

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