The Western Hotel has been a longtime mainstay in the scenic hamlet of Callicoon, which is scenically situated along the banks of the Delaware River. The hotel was constructed circa 1852, likely making it the oldest commercial building in the hamlet. It has been run by many families, several of which owned it for several decades, including the Thorwelle, Darling and Naughton families. The hotel’s construction and the hamlet’s growth had quickly followed the arrival of the New York & Erie railroad depot which opened in 1848. Callicoon became a prosperous railroad stop and river town in the Delaware River valley. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Callicoon Downtown Historic District.
The historic hotel has been the site of several infamous murders. In 1921 Peter Kahl, in a fit of jealousy, murdered his wife Laura Darling Kahl, who had attended a local dance with another man. That night, despite the implying protests of her husband, Laura and the other man, George Turner, had gone out together for an evening of dancing at the nearby hamlet of Hortonville. When she returned from the dance to Callicoon at 2am in the morning, her scorned husband Peter was angrily waiting for them. After being taunted by Turner and quite casually dismissed by his wife who “shrugged her shoulder and humming a lively tune skipped into the house,” Peter Kahl, in a rage, shot her in the head with a 32-caliber revolver on the front porch of the Western Hotel. Peter was charged with the first-degree murder. Despite several witnesses, motive and possession of the gun, Peter Kahl was acquitted of murder. For many years it has been rumored that the ghost of Laura Darling Kahl haunts the Western Hotel.
Eighty-seven years later, in 2008, Joe Naughton, then owner of the Western Hotel, accidentally shot and killed bartender and local actress Lori Schubeler while she was working behind the bar. At the time Naughton, who was drinking, was showing a patron his collection of antique personal guns. Naughton accidentally discharged one of the weapons, with the bullet striking Schubeler in the chest, quickly killing her. Joe Naughton was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and criminal possession of a firearm. He was sentenced six months in county jail, 5 years probation and 500 hours of community service.