Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Haines Shoe House

With another cold, rainy day ahead of us we headed to the Haines Shoe House in York, PA.  They offered guided tours for $5.

The house was built by Mahlon Haines “The Shoe Wizard” of York. 

He also built a shoe dog house for his great dane, Countess.

With the weather I’m not surprised we were the only ones on the tour this morning.

We went inside and were greeted by the owner of the shoe house.  Her and her husband bought it a couple of years ago.  Mike, a friend of hers was our guide for today.

Mahlon Haines was born in 1875.  He moved to York at age thirty.  He bought $127 worth of shoes, sold them and used the profits to buy more shoes.  He built a shoe sales empire that included more than 40 stores.

Front door into the house.

The Shoe House was built in 1948 as an advertising gimmick.  The building is modeled after a high-topped work shoe.

It has a wood frame structure covered with wire lath and coated with a cement stucco.

It measures 48 feet in length, 17 feet at the widest part and 25 feet in height.

Every window has this shoe motif.

It is said he made his fortune by selling himself through outlandish antics and a flair for dramatic advertising.

It’s not certain how many different advertising fans were made but there are over 200 fans in the house now. 

Salt and Pepper shakers, shoe horns, makeup mirrors, shoe shine kits, etc.  There was advertisement on everything.

Haines originally built the house to give older couples who couldn’t afford a vacation a chance to get away for a while.  There was no costs to stay here at his invitation.  Eventually it was opened for newlyweds too.  

The sitting room or parlor was our first stop. 

There are three bedrooms.  One bedroom was for the invited guests.

The maid had her own room.

The chauffer had her own room.  She would drive the guests into town for dinner. 

The carport was in the arch of the shoe.  It is now the gift shop.

Even the original mailbox was shaped like a shoe.

Our tour ended in the kitchen.  It is unclear what color the original walls were painted because all the pictures are in black and white.

Mahlon Haines built a house across the street from the shoe house for himself and his second wife.  After his death his wife was left financially comfortable.  The rest of his fortune he gave away.

The best part of the tour was the history of Mahlon Haines.  The shoe can be seen from the road if you don’t want to take the tour.  By the time we finished our tour there were several people waiting in the gift shop to take the tour.

I did buy a magnet.


  1. I find it interesting how many fortunes across the US are made from these small starts. That is just one thing that makes this country great.

  2. What fun - I love shoes! It is such a good thing that you have so many interesting inside things to do since the weather doesn't seem to be cooperating!