"It is possible for honest businessmen to make it. It just takes them a lot longer than the dishonest ones." - Gage Winchester
Gage Winchester is the creator and owner of the Winchester Hotel in Winchester, New York. He is also a successful businessman and entrepreneur well-known for investing in and creating new businesses in the Winchester area. He is also the father of Monica Winchester and the grandfather of Blake Hedison and Rachel Hedison.
Born in Schenectady, New York in 1885, Gage was the son of Lawrence Winchester and Marilyn Winchester, the daughter of a former New York governor. His family made their fortune in the steel and automobile industry, later investing in oil. He attended the Winters Academy in Albany, New York during which time he sought out a twelve-acre homestead his family owned north of Ashford Falls and east of Mill City in 1906 which he had inherited. The property included an old hotel and trading post he sought to restore, but with investors, his plan turned into a multi-billion dollar project that built a rustic 350-room hotel on the site. Extra funds for the project were attained by selling off a few acres and acquiring and re-opening the old limestone quarries in the area left over from the 1820s. His project not only created the modern Winchester Hotel but founded the community that became the city of Winchester in the Forties.
Opening in 1908, the Winchester Hotel became a huge success during the 1910s and 1920s with travelers between New York City and Canada. Having spent much of life developing the hotel, he came late to having a social life. A quiet and reserved person, he rarely sought romantic interactions but he was always hospitable to his female guests. Sometime in the 1920s, he met Charlotte Archer, a struggling saleswoman who by chance didn't have enough money to pay for a small room in the hotel. Gage lowered his rates for her and befriended her. Their friendship subsequently turned into a romance and they married, having a daughter, Monica Winchester, in 1928. Charlotte, however, didn't care much for living in the hotel, and he planned construction of a palatial estate on what was left of the property from his inheritance. This property was roughly twelve miles west of Mill City in Haverstraw Canyon and he had to commission a road and two bridges to reach it. Unfortunately, Charlotte passed away from unresolved causes in the Late Forties. Just how far Gage got in the structure is unrevealed.
Meanwhile, Gage's concierge, Johnathan Trout, in the 1930s was specifically aiming the hotel toward a more affluent clientele, a change that also attracted mobsters and a criminal element during Prohibition. but Gage replaced him in 1939 with Howard Marcus, who became his closest friend and later his hotel manager.
During the first World War, Gage invested in a local steel plant that manufactured tank and cannon parts for the United States Armed Forces. This boom to the local economy as well as reinvigorating the stagnating lumber industry in the area allowed Winchester to become a town in 1938. The local lake also started appearing on road maps as Winchester Lake, a name that Gage took seriously by having a dock installed for his own boat. Despite his great success and achievements, Gage saw a decline in the hotel's popularity during the Fifties and Sixties and once again began endorsing the hotel to the elite. He was also one of several businessmen and entrepreneurs who helped rebuild Ashford Falls High School in October 1953. During a 1958 New Years Eve, he met businessman Carter Hedison who took a romantic interest in Monica. Since Monica had a son out of wedlock, Gage encouraged her to see Carter as a potential father to her son, Tyler Malloy, and they married in 1959, having two children, Blake Hedison and Rachel Hedison. Gage really loved his grandchildren, taking them boating on the lake and on camping trips into Haverstraw Canyon. Unfortunately, unknown to Gage, Carter never really accepted Tyler as his son and the boy nearly burned the Hedison Mansion in 1967. Although Gage helped Carter to undo the damage, Ty was once again blamed for another fire, this time at the Winchester Hotel a year later. Unbeknownst to anyone, the fire which started out in the basement was caused by an altercation between Gage and businessman Tate Fitz-Gibbon with Ty watching, but no one believed his vision of the argument and Ty went through life branded for both fires.
Due to the level of damage, Gage shut down the hotel to do repairs, but after a lifetime of smoking, his health was starting to be an issue and he left most of the supervision to Howard. He passed away in 1969 and left the hotel in his will to be shared by his daughter, Monica and Howard. With his passing, the hotel closed with much of the work still incomplete in 1970. His lumber and limestone quarries were later acquired by Nate Featherstone.
With Monica's death in 1986, she left her shares of the hotel to her children, Ty Hedison, Blake Hedison and Rachel Hedison although in 1987, Rachel eventually altered the will to gain full custody. This complicated her father's plans to illegally sell the property in in 1987 while he was also using the site for clandestine meetings with Dash Andrews and Louis Riley. In 1988, while trying to further her social standing in the area, Rachel tried researching Gage's ancestry back to Ashford Falls which instead went back to Albany, New York. She then tried falsifying records to place her ancestor Gabriel Hedison in the area in 1795, but the fake deeds failed upon close examination and her scheme failed.
Gage's legacy, however, refused to go away, and in 1995, Marcus's heirs approached Blake Hedison for extra funding to finish the restoration and finally reopen the hotel.