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Haines Shoe House

The Shoe House, built in 1948, was by far "Colonel" Mahlon N. Haines' most outlandish advertising gimmick. It is a wood frame structure covered with wire lath and coated with a cement stucco. It measures 48 ft. in length, 17 ft. in width at the widest part and 25 ft. in height. The interior consists of five different levels and contains three bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen and living room.
This giant structural advertisement was originally used as a guest house. In the first year after its completion, elderly couples were invited to stay for a weekend and live like "kings and queens" at Haines' expense.In the spring of 1987 the Shoe House returned to the Haines family when a granddaughter of the "Shoe Wizard" (Ruth Miller) purchased the building.




Windows of the Shoe House

Take a visit back to the era of post-World War II optimism and enthusiasm when the Shoe House was built.








Entrance to the Shoe House

Dog House or Small Shoe House?











Friday - 12:30 - 4:00
Saturday - 11:00 - 6:00
Sunday - 11:00 - 6:00
& by appointment
Phone 717-840-8339
The Shoe House is located at 197 Shoe House Road near the Hellam exit of U.S. 30.
Take PA Rt. 462 east off of I-83 to the town of Hellam.
Turn north (left) off of Rt. 462 on to Shoe House Road.
The Shoe House is located approximately 4 miles east of York, PA on PA Rt.462.


      "Colonel" Mahlon N. Haines, known as the Shoe Wizard of York, was one of York County's most colorful and illustrious citizens. Born in Old Washington, Ohio in 1875, Haines moved to York while in his early twenties. From his first consignment of $127.00 worth of shoes, he built a shoe sales empire in central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland that at its height included more than 40 stores.

     The eccentric millionaire made his fortune by selling himself. He felt that anyone could sell his shoes, as long as he attracted the customers. And attract them he did through outlandish antics and a flair for dramatic advertising.

     Haines interests were as boundless as his energies. Throughout his life he was an enthusiastic supporter of Boy Scouting, staging safaris that brought thousands of scouts to his "Wizard Ranch". An avid non-smoker and promoter of physical fitness, Haines exercised daily and expounded on the virtues of a healthy life to all who would listen. Long before the dangers of smoking were widely known. Haines would stop people on the streets of York and offer them cash if they would promise to quit!

     As much as he loved to make money, he also loved to give it away. When he died in 1962 at the age of 87, he had already made countless donations to his favorite ventures and charities. His philosophy was "I came into this world with nothing and I's like to leave the same way!"

     Haines had a saying for every occasion. But his secret for a happy life sums it best.

"Be honest for clear conscience Be steadfast in friendship"

     The Shoe House built in 1948, was by far Haines' most outlandish advertising gimmick. The building, modelled after a high-topped work shoe, is a wood frame structure covered with wire lath and coated with a cement stucco. It measures 48 feet in length, 17 feet in width at the widest part and 25 feet in height. The interior consists of five different levels and contains three bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen and living room.

     The shoe motif is everywhere--from the design of the stained glass windows to the shoe-shaped dog house and the decoration on the wooden fence that surrounds the property. In the ultimate homage to the shoe and the wizard, the door to the main entrance bears a portrait in stained glass of Haines himself displaying a pair of shoes!

     This giant structural advertisement was originally used as a quest house. In the first year after its completion, elderly couples were invited to stay for a weekend and live like "kings and queens" at Haines' expense. They had a maid, cook, chauffeur and automobile at their disposal and the couple was outfitted from head to toe in new clothing donated by local stores. In 1950 honeymooning couples from any town with a Haines shoe store were invited to stay at the Shoe House.

     Haines left the Shoe House to his employees who sold it 1964 to a local dentist. For the next twenty years, it was a popular ice cream parlor, with tours of the building an added attraction for curious visitors.

     In the Spring of 1987 the Shoe House returned to the Haines family when a granddaughter of the "Shoe Wizard" purchased the building. The Shoe House is completely restored and is being operated as a museum dedicated to the eccentric "Colonel" Haines.

     Take a visit back to the era of post-World War II optimism and enthusiasm when the Shoe House was built. We invite you to tour this architectural wonder and discover magic about the flamboyant York County legend, Mahlon N. Haines.

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Oct. 05, 04