Both the Sanatorium and the Hamlet were named for Catholic Bishop Henry Gabriels of Ogdensburg, New York. The hamlet grew up as the commercial center around a train depot serving the Adirondack Division of the New York Central line. The station existed primarily to deliver vacationers to the nearby resort at Paul Smiths, New York. In 1961, New York Central abandoned the Adirondack Division from Malone Junction to Gabriels.
Today, the hamlet remains the commercial center for the town of Brighton, with a Post Office, small businesses, a Roman Catholic Church, and farms.