While rolling through the cornfields of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the last thing we expected to see was, as Ed Sullivan would say, “ A really big Shoe!” But there it was, rising out of the corn – the Haines Shoe House.
Marketing 101 tells advertisers that one of the best ways to attract customers is through humor. But I doubt that “Colonel” Mahlon Haines (the shoe tycoon of York, Pennsylvania) had ever taken a marketing class … or knew much about novelty architecture.
When he built this 3 bed/2 bath “Shoe House” in 1948, he expected two things: First, he wanted you to laugh …
and second, to think of SHOES. It certainly worked on us.
The Colonel, known for his outlandish advertising gimmicks, turned $127 worth of shoes into a large, successful shoe store chain, and became a millionaire in the process.
Today, a shoe house seems wacky and weird. But is it? Compare this to Budweiser Beer spending $4,000,000 for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial showing a bunch of Clydesdale horses playing football.
You make the call.
I think it’s wonderful, and rather well built. And the dog looks happy!
The fact that it still stands after 65 years and is in good nick, must be a testament to good construction. And they’ve carried the shoe theme through wonderfully. It was lots of fun to see. ~James
It is direct to the point and exceptionally wacky, but in a good way.
It is wacky, and I love that they carried the theme through so well … the shoe dog house, bird house, fence cutouts, etc. Pretty fun. ~James
This is utterly fabulous. Thanks for visiting my blog, and for bringing me here!
Thanks for the comment Tish, and for dropping by the blog. You have to admire business people with a good sense of humor, and the shoe house is a great example. ~James
As an architect this is a very spooky building to me. I think humor is ok in things like I don’t know… clothes, but not in houses hahah. Did you get to see the inside?
Virginia, as an architect, you’ll appreciate that the shoe house in now a museum. And what you don’t see in these photos are the fire escape stairs which were added to the backside of the house. I guess that at least the fire department is keeping things to code. ~James
Hahaha at least they keep things to code. Thanks for sharing it, it’s always curious to see whats going on around the world 😀
AHHH! I lived 20 minutes from this building and we used to go here as children to get ice cream. It’s only open to visitors in the summer (early fall) for the ice cream today serving Hershey’s. Anyone who wants to see it during off hours can hit their website and make an appt. How cool is this!?
Thanks Andrea. I can believe that this would be a great place to go as kid, particularly for ice cream. Also, when we visited, we went to downtown York to the Emporium Bookstore. It’s a wacky place as well. At the time, the cigar box guitar festival was going on, which is a pretty big deal. Unfortunately, we couldn’t attend the big concert. It’s an interesting area. ~James
Glad you were able to check out my stomping grounds. 🙂
I live in New Jersey, but never knew this shoe house existed! Thanks for educating me.
Thanks Shelley. Actually, this is a very fun place, and if you get over this way, it’s worth a visit. ~James
What a wonderful place – so imaginative. He was clearly someone who had big visions and then made them happen!
It certainly is imaginative Alison. From the limited amount I read about the Colonel, he was a real Barnum and Bailey sort of businessman. You have to admire his whimsical spirit. ~James
Hahaha. I like the Ed Sullivan gag. How many of us are old enough to geddit?
You’re right Carol, this Ed Sullivan line definitely dates me and anyone else who gets it. If you want a blast from the past, go to youtube and search Ed Sullivan. The videos of his many guests are amazing: The Beatles, Jackson 5, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, etc, etc. His show was the standard Sunday evening entertainment at my house. ~James
We’ll have to check this out for sure the next time we are going that way!
This is a fun place near York, PA, and isn’t far off the interstate. Check it out. ~James
You two are always able to scout out the most interesting sights. Love it! 🙂
Thanks LuAnn. I love these wacky Roadside sights, as I’m sure you can tell from the number of posts in that category. They’re great fun, and demonstrate that there are still lots of folks out there with a sense of humor, which I reckon we need these days. ~James
That we do!
Thanks for sharing this interesting and humorous site. Talk about a man who loved his work… I wonder what his wife (if he had one) thought about it.
Thanks Margo. From what I read about the Colonel, he was a real “promoter”. And I’m sure that living with enthusiastic business person would be interesting, but also a trial at times. Luckily, they didn’t have to live in the house. He used it as a getaway for elderly couples, where they were “King & Queen” for the weekend, complete with cooks, butlers, etc. A creative guy our Colonel. ~James
Wow…what a classic. Travelling throws up some amazing sights 🙂 have a lovely weekend ~ Lakshmi x
Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog Lakshmi. It really is a classic, and it must have been a challenge to build. I’ve never seen anything like it. ~James