World's Largest Teapot (In Transition)
Chester, West Virginia
One summer morning we bought the last three "World's Largest Teapot" postcards from Chaney's Bait, the gas station/mini-mart across the street (in the interval we hope they've restocked).
The Teapot stands on a manicured lawn between elevated US 30 and its Chester exit ramp. It is 12 feet high, 44 feet wide, and was originally built as a giant keg by Hires Root Beer. It was then bought by David Strickler (who claimed to be the inventor of the banana split) who cut windows and doors into the keg and turned it into a concession stand at a miniature golf course in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. In 1938 it was bought by William "Babe" Devon, who brought it to Chester, added the spout, lid, and handle, and converted it into the World's Largest Teapot. Devon was a booster of the region's then-vibrant pottery industry, and used the Teapot to sell teapots as well as snacks and souvenirs.
The Teapot went out of business c. 1980 and fell into disrepair. A major restoration in 1990 brought it to its current state, followed up every few years with repairs and repainting.
The Teapot is up at the top of the "stick" part of West Virginia (a.k.a. the "Northern Panhandle"), sandwiched between Ohio and Pennsylvania. The drive at night along Ohio's Hwy 7 makes it clear that Ohio is to West Virginia as the Dominican Republic is to Haiti. In Ohio it's all lights and activity and a big highway. Across the river in West Virginia it's pitch black. Perhaps the sliver of WV was deliberately preserved by Pennsylvania to provide a buffer between it and the many industrial metals plants on the Ohio side.
Chester's public library has a page describing the history of the Teapot. [Thanks to M. Buell for the library page link]