Last week I enjoyed a visit with a Slingerlands homeowner. Her lovely Victorian house is right on New Scotland Road east of the underpass and was built about 1880. During a recent renovation she found these in her dining room wall, between the lathe and plaster and the exterior of the house, underneath the window.
Concealed shoes are a fascinating find - the first ones I have heard of in Bethlehem. You can Google all about them - but the consensus is that shoes were hidden in walls to ward against evil or for good luck. Others have speculated that they are related to fertility (you know - the old woman who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn't know what to do.) The shoes are almost always very worn, often children's or women's shoes. One article I read speculated that this was something men did and never talked about which explains the complete lack of written, historic records about the practice. The only evidence is the shoes themselves. The earliest shoes found go back to the 1400s in England and the practice was carried over to the states.
So you owners of historic houses, keep an eye out - you never know what you will find when you open those walls.
Here are some links in case you want to read more.