Many labs are happy to tout a cumulative 300 years of optical experience among their lab employees. The 6 people you see in the picture above have that beat. These veterans have seen it all and their knowledge is being passed to the newest generation of Winchester lab technicians.
In 1889, four men who had worked at an optical company in Winstead, Connecticut purchased machinery from the estate of the deceased owner that they used to set up a small company to manufacture optical frames. The company was called Winchester Optical Company, named after the town in which the village of Winstead was located. The business continued as a partnership for a few years. In 1901, a minister from Winstead who had accepted a call to a church in Horseheads, New York, convinced two of the men to move to Horseheads. Winchester Optical Company was incorporated as a New York corporation on January 1, 1902, and has been in business ever since. At first, the company made spectacle frames and rimless mountings out of gold.
Sales were slow for the new company, and by 1906 the owners were desperate to increase their business. They convinced an optometrist to move from Connecticut and establish his practice in Sayre, Pennsylvania. Winchester Optical then went into the laboratory business. The son and grandson of the first retail customer operated the optometric practice until a few years ago. By 1930, two branch offices, Olean, NY and Williamsport, PA, had been opened. The company no longer manufactured frames, but instead was manufacturing edgers in addition to the main business of selling glasses.
After Tom Lynch joined Winchester in the mid-thirties, he carried edgers in the trunk of his car and delivered them as soon as one was ordered. Maintaining consistency of manufacture proved more difficult than planned and Winchester quit manufacturing equipment soon thereafter. Once out of the equipment business, Winchester’s focus turned to providing lab services to eye care practices throughout the region.
In 1953 Tom published the Lens and Frame Information book which helped to standardize the way frame and lens sizes were measured and, in 1955, the Lynch family bought Winchester Optical. Since then Tom, his children and grandchildren have retained a dedication to provide the type of service that optical professionals can count on. The kind of service that should come from the oldest continually operating lab in America.