Haines Shoe House
One of the last stops on our recent road trip, was the Haines Shoe House in York, Pennsylvania. The Shoe House is only about 3.5 hours from New York City, but it had never really been on the way to or from anywhere I'd traveled before. Since I was in complete control of our route this time—and because the trip was the destination—I made sure that we wound down the trip on a high note.
The Haines Shoe House is exactly what it sounds like—a shoe-shaped house—built by local shoe salesman Mahlon Haines in 1948. It's modeled after a Haines work boot, which he allegedly handed to his architect with the instructions "build me a house like this." The Shoe House was never a private residence, but functioned as an advertisement for his business, and was once highly visible from the main road and surrounding areas (a precursor to the Longaberger Basket headquarters). The 25-foot, five-story house was rented to couples, some of whom were newlyweds that won the opportunity to stay to for their honeymoon (along with a free pair of shoes!).
The house has two bedrooms, a living room, an eat-in kitchen and room for a maid and a butler. There are shoe details everywhere you look—stained glass shoe windows, a stained glass portrait of Haines, the "Shoe Wizard" himself, shoe-shaped planters and wooden shoe cutouts on the fences.
There are two miniature replicas of the house on the property—a dog house and a mailbox—and the house's official address is 197 Shoe House Road. I was doing a good job of keeping each destination a secret from my mom, who wanted to be surprised, but this one was prematurely revealed when the GPS instructed us to turn onto "Shoe House Road."
The Shoe House was recently purchased by locals Jeff and Melanie Schmuck, and Melanie was our (excellent) tour guide. She said that she grew up nearby, had always loved the Shoe House and was frustrated by the previous owner's inconsistent operating hours. When the house came up for sale, they jumped at the chance to buy it and have been trying to restore the house and its furnishings to its original condition ever since. There's an ice cream parlor in the heel (once a drive-through car port) and a small gift shop with "shoe"venirs (I just made that up, but Melanie, if you're reading this, feel free to use it).
Aside from being a standout addition to my "collection" of roadside novelty architecture, our visit was even more special because of Melanie and her enthusiasm for the Shoe House. She didn't have to explain to us why it was a necessity that her and her husband purchase the Shoe House, but I'm always happy to meet other people that appreciate the strange and find value in maintaining something that makes the world just a tiny bit more whimsical.
Haines Shoe House
97 Shoe House Road,
York, PA 17406
First Day of Spring - Memorial Day: Fri, Sat, Sun 11-5
Memorial Day - Labor Day: Wed - Sun 11-5
Labor Day - Halloween: Fri, Sat, Sun 11-5
Closed Easter Sunday, Memorial Day and Labor Day.