Haines Shoe House: Step into History in a Boot-Shaped House

In 1948, enterprising shoe salesman Mahlon Haines decided that the best way to increase sales at his ever-expanding collection of shoe stores was to build a giant shoe-shaped house in York, Pennsylvania that would pique the interest of passing motorists. Haines reportedly requested that an architect build a house that looked like a work boot which was a popular seller in his many shoe stores.

Haines Shoe House, York Pa

Photo by Flickr

The Haines Shoe House features shoe-themed stained-glass windows, a shoe-shaped doghouse that was once home to a friendly Great Dane named Countess, and numerous historic artifacts—such as a black and white advertisement for a pair of 48 cent shoes. Mahlon Haines never actually lived in the Haines Shoe House in his lifetime. Instead, the Shoe House served as a promotional vacation spot that doubled as an advertisement for Haines Shoes. Lucky newlyweds and elderly couples who were selected to vacation in the boot-shaped house often finished out their holiday by being gifted a brand new pair of Haines shoes.

Haines Shoe House entrance and sign

Photo by Flickr

Haines Shoe House - along the Lincoln Highway near York, PA

Photo by Flickr

The Haines Shoe House has had several owners since Mahlon Haines’ death in 1962. The Shoe House has been a museum, an ice cream parlor, and—most recently—a short-term rental where guests can enjoy a state-of-the-art hot tub, a fire pit, and retro decor that is steeped in history. Visitors can relax in shoe-themed rooms such as the “Instep Suite” and the “Shoelace Space.” The front door of the Haines Shoe House still features a stained-glass window with a portrait of “Shoe Wizard” Mahlon Haines holding up one of his prized shoes.

The Haines Shoe House is an excellent place to spend the night if you’re road tripping through Pennsylvania. Even the most seasoned traveler can’t say that they have spent the night in the ankle of a giant boot. The Haines Shoe House is the perfect synthesis of retro charm, modern amenities, and whimsical fun.

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