Gardens to Gables

Travels in Virginia: A Giant Coffee Pot on the Side of the Road

A giant silver coffee pot on the side of the road possesses a certain sort of magic, almost certainly the power to encourage drivers to conduct a hasty U-turn to make sure that what they saw was, yes – a building shaped like an enormous coffee pot.

The coffee pot on US 60 between Lexington, Virginia, and the town of Buena Vista.

The coffee pot on US 60 between Lexington, Virginia, and the town of Buena Vista.

The metal clad, round building, with an attached spout and handle, was constructed in 1959 for Kenneth Willis. It served as a restaurant until around 1978.

Some sources cite the original plans for the quirky building to have a globe on top that lit up as if it were percolating….and originally, a concrete walkway, painted red to suggest a hot burner on a stove, encircled the coffee pot building. A variety of businesses have taken advantage of the building’s distinctive features, including a vacation canoe rental and a fresh fish market.

The Bedford Coffee Pot in Pennsylvania is an earlier version of coffee pot roadside architecture.

The Bedford Coffee Pot in Pennsylvania is an earlier version (circa 1927) of coffee pot roadside architecture.

America’s 20th century roadside architecture teems with examples of buildings designed and constructed to entice the traveler off of the road – restaurants shaped like apples, a florist shop built to resemble a woven wicker basket, an ice cream store in the shape of an igloo, the Mother Goose House in Hazard, Kentucky  –  the list is endless and exhilarating.

Americans responded to the automobile age and the network of roads snaking across the country with zeal and vigor. Route 66 is certainly one hotspot of roadside architecture, but if you stay alert (and are prepared to nimbly slam on the brakes and turn around), there is no telling what you can discover along roadways all across the country.

 

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3 Thoughts on “Travels in Virginia: A Giant Coffee Pot on the Side of the Road

  1. I remember the “coffee Pot” (my mother, a tea drinker, would always call it a “tea kettle”) building well growing up in Buena Vista, Virginia. It was a canoe livery for years. Did a brisk business for as long as I can remember. Great to see it still standing. I hope the new owners (whoever buys it) appreciates its unique character and builds a new business around this wonderful structure.

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