Winds topple famous coffee pot

The (Orangeburg) Times and DemocratFebruary 25, 2013 

— The Coffee Pot diner has served as a beacon for motorists on U.S. 301 since the 1950s.

Through the decades, the 6-foot, 250-pound sheet metal coffee pot atop the building withstood various assaults by Mother Nature. But last month, gusty winds knocked down the Cordova icon.

“I am going to put it back,” building owner Thomas “Buck” Gray said. “I am going to remodel the roof and fix it back just the way it was.”

Gray is unsure how much it will cost to restore the icon, but said he is willing to put in the time and money.

“It is a landmark,” he said. “People can ask me … where I live and I tell them ‘Do you know where the coffee pot is?’

“Oh yeah, they are familiar with the coffee pot.”

The gray coffee pot, now safely tucked away out of the elements, sustained a dent during the fall. But it’s still whole, and the wiring that lights the top of the pot still works.

“She’s still perkin’,” Gray said.

The pot was supported on the closed diner’s roof by three 2-by-6 slabs of wood that had rotted through. “That wind,” he said. “The 2-by-6s could not stand no more.”

The diner’s original owners, the late Emily and Frederick Griffin, purchased the land the diner sits on from Gray’s father, Thomas Woodrow Gray, around 1950.

The coffee pot was made by Fred Griffin and was most likely placed on the diner shortly after its opening.

U.S. 301 was once a major thoroughfare running north and south. The Griffins enjoyed the business that came along the route, but the diner succumbed in 1979 to the decline in traffic that followed the opening of Interstate 95.

Thomas and his wife, Imogene, purchased the former diner about five years ago.

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