The Shoe Must Go On

Everybody is familiar with the Mother Goose nursery rhyme about the old woman who lived in a shoe, but there’s one house in Hellam Township, Penn., that gives new meaning to the iconic tale. Haines Shoe House is a classic example of American roadside architecture. Successful shoe salesman Mahlon Haines gave one of his work boots to an architect with the instructions to “build me a house like this.” Built in 1948, the stucco-covered timber-frame building with stained glass windows reaches a height of 25 feet and is 48 feet long. The toe contains the living room, while the heels houses the kitchen. Two bedrooms are in the ankle, and an ice cream shop is located in the instep. Upon completion, Haines lived in the house before moving across the street and making the shoe house a vacation spot for newlyweds. When Haines died in 1962, the house was given to his employees, who sold it. The new owner continued to sell ice cream to passersby and tourists from the shop. In 1987, the shoe house, which had by then begun to deteriorate, was purchased by Haines’ granddaughter. She had the shoe repainted and opened the house to public tours.