Spending the Night in the Haines Shoe House

Spending the night at the Haines Shoe House vacation rental near York Pennsylvania.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to spend the night in the Haines Shoe House, one of PA’s most recognizable roadside attractions, you’re in the right place!

The Shoe House was completed in 1949 at a cost of twenty six thousand dollars.
The Haines Shoe House is now a vacation rental.

Not only am I going to share with you what it’s like to stay in this 5-story roadside giant, I’m writing this article FROM the Haines Shoe House!

Working from the breakfast nook at the Haines Shoe House.
Working from the breakfast nook at the Shoe House.

As i type these words, I’m sitting in the living room of the Haines Shoe House, an architectural oddity that has been captivating passers-by since its completion in 1949.

Working from the living room at the Haines Shoe House.
Working from the living room at the Shoe House.

Originally constructed as a promotional gimmick by the owner of a shoe store chain, the house has at various points been a honeymoon retreat, a museum, and an ice cream parlor.

The Rec Room extends out from the original Haines Shoe House.
The Rec Room extends out from the original Shoe House.

In late 2022, it reopened in its latest incarnation as a vacation rental, receiving a bit of a facelift while retaining much of the original character and architectural details that made it an iconic symbol of the York area.

Every window in the Haines Shoe House has a stained glass shoe embedded in it.
Every window on the upper floors of the Shoe House has a stained glass shoe embedded in it.

History of the Haines Shoe House

The Haines Shoe House was the brainchild of Mahlon Haines, a flamboyant businessman and self-made millionaire who understood the value of clever marketing.

Portrait of Mahlon Haines on display in the Shoe House.
Portrait of Mahlon Haines on display in the Shoe House.

By the time Haines commissioned the construction of the Shoe House, he had built an empire of nearly 50 shoe stores, focusing on keeping costs low and selling larger volumes than his competitors.

A pair of Haines shoes on display at the Haines Shoe House near York Pennsylvania.
A pair of Haines shoes on display at the Haines Shoe House.

One of the ways Haines kept costs down was by utilizing free publicity, and he knew building a shoe-shaped house and giving people a chance to win a free stay in it would generate a LOT of free publicity!

Stained glass front door at the Haines Shoe House near York Pennsylvania.
Mahon Haines was a brilliant self-promoter.

Construction of the Haines Shoe House

The Shoe House was completed in 1949, at a cost of $26,000.

Mahlon Haines built a house across the street from the Shoe House after marrying his second wife
The Shoe House was completed in 1949.

The Shoe House is 48 feet long, 25 feet high and 17 feet wide.

The Haines Shoe house is 48 feet long 25 feet high and 17 feet wide.
The Haines Shoe house is 48 feet long 25 feet high and 17 feet wide.

The Shoe House has 5 levels, including a basement rec room that was originally designed as a garage.

The basement of the Haines Shoe House was initially used as a garage.
The basement of the Haines Shoe House was initially used as a garage (photo on display in the house).

Examples of attention to detail are everywhere, like the shoes on every panel of fence surrounding the house.

Shoe-themed details are apparent inside and outside the Haines Shoe House.
Shoe-themed details are apparent inside and outside the Haines Shoe House.

Staying in the Haines Shoe House

As I write this I’m spending my second night here in the Shoe House, and I have to tell you, it’s been a wonderful experience!

Firepit behind the Haines Shoe House near York Pennsylvania
Fire pit behind the Shoe House.

Modern touches that have been added to the exterior since the house’s “rebirth” as a vacation rental include a fire pit area (pictured above) and an outdoor hot tub (pictured below).

Hot tub beside the Haines Shoe House near York Pennsylvania.
Hot tub beside the Shoe House.

At the rear of the property you’ll also find a dog house, built as a scale replica of the Shoe House.

The shoe-shaped doghouse behind the Haines Shoe House in Hellam Township Pennsylvania.
The shoe-shaped doghouse.

Don’t get too excited – no pets are allowed (same as virtually any other vacation rental I’ve ever stayed in).

A stuffed dog now lives in the shoe-shaped doghouse behind the Haines Shoe House near York Pennsylvania.
A stuffed dog now lives in the shoe-shaped doghouse.

But at one time in the 1950s, a Great Dane named Countess really did call that dog house home (at least while visiting the Shoe House).

Countess the Great Dane lived in the dog house behind the Haines Shoe House in the 1950s.
Countess the Great Dane lived in the dog house behind the Shoe House in the 1950s.

Inside the Haines Shoe House

Entering the Shoe House through the front door, you are literally greeted by a stained-glass likeness of Mahlon Haines.

Front door of the Haines Shoe House.
Front door of the Haines Shoe House.

To the right of the entrance you’ll find my favorite room in the house – the living room in the “toe” of the house.

The living room was my favorite room in the Haines Shoe House.
The living room was my favorite room in the Haines Shoe House.

Beyond the living room lies the largest of the three bedrooms at the Shoe House, the Instep Suite.

The Instep Suite is the largest bedroom in the Haines Shoe House.
The Instep Suite is the largest bedroom in the house.

This is the room I stayed in – the bed was very comfortable and the attached full bath had plentiful hot water and great shower pressure (you can’t say that about every old house, to be sure).

Bathroom in the Instep Suite at the Haines Shoe House.
Bathroom in the Instep Suite.

Passing back through the living room and up a flight of stairs brings you to the kitchen of the Shoe House.

Kitchen at the Haines Shoe House.
Kitchen in the Shoe House.

The built-in breakfast nook is beautiful, and is featured in many old photos displayed in the house, dating back to 1950.

The breakfast nook in the kitchen at the Haines Shoe House near York Pennsylvania.
The breakfast nook in the kitchen.

Going up another flight of steps brings you to the Shoelace Space, the second-largest of the three bedrooms in the Shoe House.

Entrance to the Shoelace Space bedroom at the Haines Shoe House.
Entrance to the Shoelace Space.

As the name implies, this room is situated beneath what would be the shoe laces on the outside of the house.

The Shoelace Space is located on the fourth floor of the Haines Shoe House.
The Shoelace Space is located on the fourth floor of the Shoe House.

Heading up yet another flight of steps brings you to the top floor of the Shoe House.

The Ankle Abode is the uppermost bedroom at the Haines Shoe House in York Pennsylvania.
The Ankle Abode is the uppermost bedroom at the Haines Shoe House.

Here’s you’ll find the Ankle Abode, the smallest of the three bedrooms in the Shoe House (although it has arguably the funkiest paint scheme!).

The Ankle Abode room at the Haines Shoe House near York Pennsylvania.
The Ankle Abode room.

There’s also a full bath on the top floor, to be shared with the Shoelace Space.

Bathroom on the fifth floor of the Haines Shoe House.
Bathroom on the top floor.

Heading all the way down to the basement (stairs are through the kitchen), you’ll find the largest and most-modern room in the Shoe House.

The basement of the Haines Shoe House is the most modern looking room in the house.
The basement of the Haines Shoe House is the most modern looking room in the house.

Here the former garage has been bumped out and repurposed into a rec room, complete with a big screen TV, wet bar, full-sized refrigerator, and a half-bath.

The basement of the Haines Shoe House is set up like a rec room.
The basement of the Shoe House is set up like a rec room.

Renting the Haines Shoe House

The Haines Shoe House is now available to rent through VRBO, with rates running anywhere from $215 to $323 per night, depending on day of week and season (I paid $249/night for a Wed/Thursday stay in mid-November).

Living room at he Haines Shoe House near York Pennsylvania.
Living room.

The property sleeps up to six people, and a minimum 2 night stay is required.

Renting the Haines Shoe House requires a 2 night minimum stay.
Renting the Shoe House requires a 2 night minimum stay.

To rent the Haines Shoe House for your own memorable stay, please visit the OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the Shoe House.

The Haines Shoe House is now a vacation rental listed with VRBO.
Staying at the Shoe House was a truly memorable and enjoyable experience!

If you enjoy unusual places to stay (or just enjoy reading about them), the Presidential Train Car Bed and Breakfast at Doolittle Station should intrigue you.

The Presidential Train Car bed and breakfast is just one of the many attractions at Doolittle Station in DuBois, PA.
The Presidential Train Car bed and breakfast at Doolittle Station in DuBois, PA.

This one-of-a-kind “mansion on rails” was built originally for a railroad president, and was once also used by a United States President!

The extravagant dining room aboard the Presidential Train Car bed and breakfast at Doolittle Station.
The extravagant dining room aboard the Presidential Train Car bed and breakfast at Doolittle Station.

Another quirky place you can spend the night is the Silence of the Lambs House in Fayette County.

Spending the night at the Silence of the Lambs house near Perryopolis Pennsylvania.

As a big fan of horror films myself, the chance to spend the night in the house where the dramatic conclusion of “The Silence of the Lambs” was filmed was one experience I thoroughly enjoyed!

The foyer of Buffalo Bill's House in Perryopolis Pennsylvania.
The foyer of Buffalo Bill’s House, now a vacation rental with a unique twist!

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Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.