The West Shore Hotel is a now-demolished tourist boarding house along Lake Huntington in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Boarding houses first began to develop in the Catskill Mountains in the latter half of the 19th century, mostly frequented by working-class families who sought refuge from congested, unhealthy cities. 1 Lodgers would rent one or more rooms for one or more nights, and meals were usually not included in the tab.
The earliest boarding houses were located on farms that enabled rural families to supplement their farm income. 1 In some instances, farmhouses were enlarged or entirely new structures would be built to accommodate guests. Like tenements in New York City, boarding houses typically had shared bathrooms and flexible spaces, where living rooms could double as bedrooms or workrooms. Privacy was a luxury.
The advent of the automobile and more reliable roads led to fewer stays at boarding houses as it became more feasible for tourists to conduct day trips without the need for overnight accommodations. By the middle of the 20th century, expectations for family privacy and guest services made taking in boarders unappealing, and it became uneconomical to operate boarding houses as new motels sprung up along the highway. 1
The West Shore Hotel was built circa 1890 by William F. Henry 5 and offered bathing, fishing, tennis, baseball, and dancing amenities for its guests 4 and regular hayrides to Kenoza Lake, 3 while the surrounding community offered anglers, rowers, bathers, and swimmers plenty of opportunity in its showcase lake. 3 A local festival offered moving picture tents, carousels, card parties, and dances in August.
Additions to the West Shore Hotel were completed in 1920 and 1940, and the facility was closed circa 1993 when it was operating as an apartment building. Renovations were attempted on the former hotel in the early 21st century, but a failing substructure led to its demolition on February 10, 2020.
- Scheer, Virginia. “The Farmhouse as Boarding House.” Voices, 2000.
- “”West Shore House.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 8 Jun. 1902, p. 19.
- “Sullivan County Resorts Enjoying Splendid Season.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 16 Aug 1914, p. 10.
- “West Shore House.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 26 Jun. 1919, p. 8.
- Interview with William Voucher.
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Sorry, puppy interruption, to continue and to reiterate, William Henry’s second wife and my great grandmother was Christine Bennedum , the granddaughter of John Bennedum Sr. John Sr was taking boarders at the farm 1840’s-50’s. The farm was halfway between Lake Huntington and Fosterdale. My Grandmother Muriel Henry (Boucher) was born in the still standing original Henry homestead,(right behind my house), played around the W.S. as a little girl, working there as well. And photos of her childhood, teens, 20’s, etc. in and around the West Shore.
The West Shore was built and operated by my grandmother’s father and his siblings. His wife was the grandaughter of one of the earliest local boarding I have all his diaries , ledger’s and many, many photos of building, yearly group photos of guests, etc. Would love to share the history. William Henry Boucher Jr