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More room at the inn

A 3,000-square-foot expansion project at Ashland's Winchester Inn is expected to be completed by mid-June.

That’s a nearly 40 percent increase in the existing 8,000 square feet in several buildings on the bed-and-breakfast’s nearly half-acre property at 35 S. Second St., between Hargadine Street and Enders Alley, but there won’t be any increase in the existing guest room inventory of nine suites and 11 guest rooms.

Instead, the family-run inn will have a new kitchen, bar, office, laundry facility and bus station, as well as expansion of some of the guest rooms, according to Drew Gibbs, co-owner and sommelier.

The bar will be moved to a new, 360-square-foot location at the inn to make room for more seating in the dining-room. The bar will have on outdoor patio, interior seating for about 20, plus five at the bar.

“Through the years, as we have grown and expanded our physical property here, our infrastructure didn’t grow with us,” said Laurie Gibbs, co-owner and mother of Drew.

Michael and Laurie Gibbs opened Winchester Inn in 1983 with seven guestrooms and a restaurant. The inn now houses 20 rooms, a restaurant and a bar, which got a new name, Alchemy Restaurant and Bar, in 2013, when Drew Gibbs and his sister Cate took over that operation. Alchemy was named to the OpenTable Diners Top 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America in September 2015.

While the inn expanded through the years, the service areas did not, said Laurie Gibbs.

A new 869-square-foot kitchen is finished, the bar is expected to be complete by the beginning of June, and the entire project is expected to be finished by mid-June, according to Laurie Gibbs.

“Part of this project is renovation of some of the guest rooms,” said Drew Gibbs. “We’ll have newer amenities, views, balconies, and a little more space that way.”

The architect for the project is Kistler+Small+White Architects, and the contractor is Adroit Construction Company, both based in Ashland.

“This is the first time we’ve worked with both of them,” said Laurie Gibbs. “We’ve known the companies and known the people for many years, and that’s partially the reason why we chose them, for their reputation and workmanship.”

Winchester Inn caters to 8,000 hotel guests a year, and the restaurant around 20,000, according to Drew Gibbs.

“We’ve outgrown our space,” said Drew Gibbs.

The main house, according to a city planning document, was build on East Main Street in 1886 but moved to its current location after a major fire in 1910. Built as a residence, it was converted to a sanitarium and, since 1923, has been used as a boarding house.

It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Roper and Julia Fordyce House.

According to the inn’s website (www.winchesterinn.com), it earned the “Winchester” moniker because of  the "mystery" surrounding much of its structure, dating back to the 1960s when the then-owner noted the many walled-over doors, stairs inside closets and windows boarded up reminded her of the famous "Winchester Mystery House" in San Jose, Calif.

Tidings Editor Bert Etling contributed to this report. Email Tidings intern Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@dailytidings.com.

An expansion project is underway at Winchester Inn in Ashland. The historic house is at center and right, the new addition at left. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Michael Gibbs, co-owner of Winchester Inn, works Wednesday on an expansion project. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch