Standing on the south side of Business Route 30, next to the county fairgrounds in Bedford, is a unique piece of Americana – a giant, two-story coffee pot. I had heard about it years ago, on a PBS special about the Lincoln Highway, and I honestly thought it had been demolished. I was surprised to learn I was wrong and the building still existed.
The Coffee Pot, which is eighteen feet tall and twenty-two feet in diameter, was designed and built by David “Bert” Koontz in 1927. It originally stood on the northern side of Route 30, almost directly across from the spot it now occupies, and was built to attract people to the gas station owned and operated by Koontz. From the unique building, he served ice cream, burgers, and beverages to those traveling on the Lincoln Highway.
The Coffee Pot became a victim of progress. The construction of the Route 30 bypass and the Pennsylvania Turnpike meant less traffic and fewer visitors. The gas station closed as travelers could avoid driving through the community. The Coffee Pot became a bar for a few years while the gas station became a drive-through beer distributor. After being empty for years, the Coffee Pot was a mere shell of itself. It was in poor condition and was slated to be torn down.
In 2003, shortly before it was scheduled to be razed, the building was saved. It was purchased for one dollar and moved across the street to its current location next to the Bedford County Fairgrounds. A small fortune was spent moving and repairing the building. A year after it was moved, it was reopened as a visitor’s center.
The Coffee Pot was easy to spot as I entered Bedford – after all, it definitely is an attention catcher. The metallic gray coffee pot had red framing around its windows and door. And, in case you are not sure that it is the correct building due to its appearance, the words “The Coffee Pot” are painted on its side.
As I investigated the Coffee Pot and its surroundings, I was surprised by the number of people who stopped and took pictures. While there, three other families stopped to do just that. It seemed to still be a very popular place to visit. One older couple stopped and asked if I would take their picture. They were from England and were traveling from Philadelphia to Columbus, Ohio. They were going to follow Route 30 as far as they possibly could before picking up the interstate into Columbus.
Though it is still listed in many places as a visitor’s center, the building appeared empty the day I visited. Peering inside, it appeared that some memorabilia is housed within, but the door was locked. I could not find any hours when it was open and I have stopped a number of times when passing through Bedford, but have never actually been there when it is open. Despite this, I’m glad this unique piece of Americana was saved for future generations to and is worth a quick stop if passing through.