Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The World’s Largest Teapot

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

In the spring of 2017, Joann and I were on our way to photograph in East Liverpool, Ohio, but first I had a little detour for us into Chester, West Virginia, just across the Ohio River.

You have to get off the new Highway 30 onto Old Highway 30 (The Lincoln Highway) to see the teapot. It started as a big barrel advertising Hire’s Root Beer in Pennsylvania. In 1938, William “Babe” Devon purchased the big barrel and had it shipped to Chester. It was covered in tin to form a teapot shape, along with adding a spout, a handle, and a large glass ball to make the knob of the “lid.”

The Teapot stood in front of Devon's pottery outlet store. Local teenagers were hired to run a concession and souvenir stand which was set up inside the Teapot.

During World War II, the teapot was closed for two years. It reopened in 1947 with new owners and food was sold again until the late 1960’s.

For a time, the teapot was painted blue and white and sold other items including lawn and garden items, china, and novelty items. When the business closed, the teapot sat abandoned until 1984.

When C&P Telephone bought the land it sat on, it was in danger of being scrapped. Geneva Hill, a Chester native rallied the citizens to save it.

For years, the teapot was moved around town as money was raised for restoration and problems were discovered and resolved.

Finally, in 1990, the teapot was moved to a location at the intersection of Old Highway 30 and State Highway 2, and a white fence was built around it. When we visited, even the little creamer had been restored.

If you pay attention when you’re traveling, you’ll be surprised by some of the interesting, or kitschy things you might be able to take a slight detour to see.

Happy Shunpiking!

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  1. That so cool that it has also a creamer. I love it was saved. :)

    1. Hi Stephanie, I love the little creamer, too. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Thank you for sharing the history of a piece of nearly-lost americana--the bigger-than-life style of advertising which became popular with the advent of travel by car on US highways. Love the photos, too!

    1. Thanks, Jean. You're right about this type of advertising being on US Highways. It's just too bad that the highways have gotten so busy. This teapot sits next to a busy highway ramp and there was a lot of construction going on all around it. I was really challenged to figure out a way to capture the teapot without orange construction signs and equipment, along with semi trucks and other vehicles on the highway in the background. Lots of attempts at finding a good spot and split second timing to capture between highway vehicles.

  3. What a fun story and great photos, Ruth and Joann! Reminds me of all the kitschy things we saw along the way on old Route 66 a few years ago!