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A Surprise in the Wall

The Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Stoneham is renovating the Episcopal Church on Central St. to use it as a teen center, and in the process of taking down a wall workers discovered something interesting: a concealment shoe.


What is a concealment shoe?

shoe found in wallA concealment shoe is an old shoe placed in a wall of a house during construction or re-construction to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. This is an old ritual that has its roots in Great Britain and came to this country with the early colonists. They are found most often in houses built in the 1700’s, but clearly this custom was carried on much longer in this case.


The shoe was probably put there around 1910 and was a high-buttoned girl’s shoe which looks like it belonged to a girl around the age of 11.


Shoes weren’t the only item to be found in the walls of old houses. Sometimes people would put other articles of clothing. When the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington was being refurbished several years ago workers found shoes, a cartridge box, a buckle and a letter dated from 1768.