The Hanover Shoe Company was established on December 26th, 1899. Harper D. Sheppard and C.N. Myers started Hanover Shoe with the intention that they would make footwear and then market it directly to the consumer through their own retail stores. They opened their first store in York in June of 1900; within fifteen years the Hanover Shoe Company had 61 stores from Indianapolis to New York City.

The company was very successful and grew rapidly. The factory, which was located on Carlisle Street, just a few blocks away from the center square, became home to a sprawling complex of buildings. The factory consisted of five major buildings and took up an entire city block. The largest of the buildings was the main building. Built in 1910, the main building was a five stories tall brick building with wooden floors and interior supports. The highest elevator shaft was topped with a large water tower with "Hanover Shoe" written on it.

In the 1970s manufacturing operations were moved to a new, more modern building on Elm Street near McSherrystown. The buildings on Carlisle Street were abandoned and left to the harsh treatment of mother nature and vandals. Despite the solid appearance of the brick buildings, without proper care they were very venerable to the elements. Once roofs started to leak it would only be a matter of time before enough wooden support beams would rot away and the buildings would collapse. Vandals opened up the buildings even more by breaking the majority of the exterior windows.

In the winter of 1979 the rear corner of the property at Park Avenue and N. Franklin Street was either donated or sold to the Borough of Hanover to build the new Wirt Park Fire Station. The large four story brick building that occupied that corner of the property was demolished. The new fire station was completed in 1982.

Hanover Shoe stopped making shoes locally in 1996, transferring its manufacturing operations to West Virginia. A Hanover Shoe spokesman said that the state was more tax friendly. "West Virginia was less intent on killing the golden goose," he said.

By 2000 the original factory buildings were on the verge of collapse. One of the smaller buildings, a two story building, constructed in the same fashion as the main building, had already collapsed. The 120 foot tall, free standing water tower was torn down some time in the 80s or 90s. In the later part of 2000 Harkins Builders started renovation work on the main building and power plant. The collapsed, two story building was demolished to make room for a parking lot. Over the next year the main building was transformed into 46 two-story townhome-type units and 24 one-story apartments. Elevator towers were gutted and framed to become living rooms. The power plant was converted into the Hanover Fire Department Museum. Thanks to the renovation the historic main building has survived and has a very bright future.

Today (2010) there still remains a Hanover Shoe retailer on the square in Hanover, but none of its shoes are manufactured in the United States anymore. Now, if you buy a Hanover Shoe product, it might have been made in India, China, Spain, Portugal, Brazil or any number of other foreign countries.



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