LOCAL

Tour the Haines Shoe House, now an Airbnb rental

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

There was a York County man who owned a shoe. Mahlon Haines knew so many people, he didn't know what to do. He offered the shoe to couples who were newly wed. He wished them all well, and sent them to bed.

From his simple vision of a large, stucco shoe smacked against Route 30, Haines had no idea the oddly shaped Haines Shoe House would serve as an iconic landmark for tourists for years to come.

And 74 years later, the Shoe House is shifting back to its original concept: a place for travelers to stay.

The iconic Haines Shoe House, located at 197 Shoe House Road, is now booking stays via Airbnb. Tina Locurto photo.

The landmark closed in July after Naomi and Waylon Brown bought the property from Jeff Schmuck, who had owned it with his wife, Melanie, who died in 2019 at the age of 38.

"Something needed to be done in order to preserve it. So, either you turn it into a nonprofit or you somehow make it profitable," Naomi Brown said. "The fact that it was originally set up to be a guesthouse just kind of led us back to the conclusion that people would really enjoy staying here."

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom site remains true to its roots, with retro-inspired decorations and original shoe iconography woven throughout the three-story building.

The iconic Haines Shoe House, located at 197 Shoe House Road, is now booking stays via Airbnb. Naomi Brown, co-owner of the house, poses in front of the shoe on Friday, Dec. 2. Tina Locurto photo.

Guests can book a stay in the Haines Shoe House for $199 a night. In addition to the nightly rate, booking the site comes with a $175 cleaning fee and $165 service fee.

It took the Browns roughly three months to fully convert the space. Though much of the original architecture and decor remained untouched, Naomi Brown said they repaired the exterior stucco, added insulation, sealed windows and fixed cracks.

Other touches included hiring an artist to paint a mural in one bedroom reminiscent of the "Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" nursery rhyme.

The iconic Haines Shoe House, located at 197 Shoe House Road, is now booking stays via Airbnb. Tina Locurto photo.

"We want to make sure that the history of the house, which is a large part of what makes it unique, is preserved long term," Naomi Brown said. "So we didn't want to just turn it into another modern Airbnb."

The Haines Shoe House, located at 197 Shoe House Road, was built in 1948 by Mahlon Haines as a roadside advertisement along Route 30 for a chain of local shoe stores. It also served as a vacation spot for newlyweds and senior couples.

After Haines died in 1962, the house was taken over by a local dentist, who turned it into an ice cream parlor. Since then, a succession of owners purchased the oddly shaped building, running tours and selling snacks at the site.

The iconic Haines Shoe House, located at 197 Shoe House Road, is now booking stays via Airbnb. Tina Locurto photo.

Jeff and Melanie Schmuck took over the Haines Shoe House in 2015. The Schmucks offered tours and ice cream to thousands of visitors before closing on July 24.

"The legacy of this property is even more special because (Haines) was always looking to help people and to really give them something that they could enjoy, like the Shoe House," Naomi Brown said. "So, I love that legacy, and we want to see it continue to be preserved for a long time to come."