An eccentric and self-made man, “Colonel” Mahlon N. Haines sold shoes. Haines built his empire around his shoes, starting with the proceeds of his very first commission. He was well known for his outlandish advertisement gimmicks and dramatic advertising. By 1948, Haines was 73 years old and a millionaire. What was left for him to do but build a shoe house?
Twenty-five feet long and 48 feet tall, the house is a simple structure of wood, wire and cement stucco, with ornate stained glass windows featuring - what else - shoes. The Haines Shoe House served as a three-dimensional interactive billboard of sorts for his Haines Shoe Company. It alerted drivers-by to the opportunity to purchase his shoes, simple work boots for $1.98.
Haines also generously opened the doors of his unique structure to the elderly and newlyweds to spend free vacation time. Any couple married in a town that had one of his shoe stores was welcome to stay at the Shoe House on an all-expenses paid visit which included “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.” Honeymooning couples had their chance to live like kings and queens in a fairy tale - though perhaps not quite the one they had mind.
For the last 40 years the Shoe House has passed through the hands of many different owners, and even served a stint as an ice cream shop, despite the questionable idea of buying ice cream served from a shoe. The house has been renovated to portray the look and feel of the 40-50’s era when the Shoe House was built and holds a museum on the eccentric life of “Colonel” Mahlon N. Haines.
New owners purchased the Shoe House in 2015, and the Shoe House continues to give guided tours and serve ice cream