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Back in place

Thomas “Buck” Gray has returned the six-foot coffee pot that sat on the old diner on U.S. Highway 301 to its former home. A storm knocked it off its long-time perch in January.

A familiar landmark has returned to its former glory on U.S. Highway 301.

The six-foot, 250-pound sheet metal coffee pot is back on its long-time perch atop the now-defunct Coffee Pot diner in Cordova.

“It means a lot,” building owner Thomas “Buck” Gray said. “It had been up for 58 years.

“A lot of people have stopped by there and wanted to know where the coffee pot was. It is really a landmark for a lot of people.”

The pot was knocked off the top of the former diner by a storm in late January. It sustained a dent during the fall, but was still whole.

Gray immediately expressed a desire to restore what has served as a beacon for motorists on U.S. 301 since the 1950s.

Gray repainted the coffee pot and replaced it with the help of heavy equipment. It took about 2-1/2 hours to set the coffee pot in its place.

In addition to the pot, he put a new roof, new windows and a new door on the building, plus a new coat of paint.

“I painted it like it was,” Gray said. “White and red.”

Gray said some interior work will be done as well.

“We are not going to open it up or nothing,” he said.

The entire project cost about $6,000.

Gray said he would take a few hours a day, when time allowed, to work on the pot. And he said the time and sweat was all worth it.

“I really did it not only for myself, but for the other people too,” he said. “A lot of people were concerned about the coffee pot. I did it for them.

“They were so happy it was going back up.”

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

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

U.S. Highway 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.

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