I'm a huge fan of Roadside America, the quirky and odd little tourist attractions from a bygone era when the "getting there" was half the fun. I've read about these types of attractions for years, I've seen countless documentaries on them and I've even hunted some of them down myself...not to mention the ones I pestered my parents to take me to when I was younger! I was thrilled yesterday to finally cross one off my list that I've actually driven by many times but have never stopped at. The Haines Shoe House in Hellam, PA is a giant shoe shaped home that sits on the side of Rt. 30 on the way to Lancaster. I'd say we go by it at least every couple of months or so but today we were out and about with no particular agenda and we decided to stop and see the giant shoe is all about!
I have to say, it was a very soleful experience. The Shoe House was built in 1948 by Mahlon Haines, a local resident and shoe salesman who eventually opened a whole chain of shoe stores in PA and Maryland and became a millionaire in the process. He built the giant shoe as an advertising gimmick, he also built it as a fully functional house although he never lived there. He was, however, a very generous man and offered the Shoe House to friends as a Honeymoon suite. We toured the home, which didn't tie us up too long. The house is five levels and includes bathrooms, a kitchen, bedrooms and everything else you'd need to feel comfy in a giant shoe. Inside, all the rooms are decorated with loads of shoe knick-knacks and furnishings that people have sent in over the years.
In case you were wondering, this 61 year old gigantic shoe does not smell as one would think.
A few weeks ago I had the chance to lay my eyes on another huge Roadside America legend that I had only read about. Standing at six stories tall and just outside Atlantic City, NJ is Lucy the Elephant, another building built to look like something other than a building. Lucy was built in 1881 as a gimmick for a new real estate venture, when that business failed the giant pachyderm was used as everything from a hotel to a bar! You can climb a very small spiral staircase in Lucy's rear legs to a large room in her tummy. From there you can peer out her eyes or take another flight of stairs up to her howdah and look out over the Atlantic Ocean. There's even a little eatery next door called "I Love Lucy's", get it?
As soon as we got there, the battery on my camera died. I was only able to snap this one picture with my son in front of Lucy to prove that we were actually there! (He's eating a Lucy chocolate lollipop!)
If you want to read more about either of these attractions we suggest visiting your local library, or head on over to the official Roadside America website and visit the Haines Shoe House page or the page about Lucy the Elephant.