Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in Oxford Stories
By Matthew Hendley
About nine miles west of the Ole Miss campus off of Highway 6 is a feature that only a roadside stop in Oxford can boast.
The World’s Largest Cedar Bucket, at 979 MS-6 in Oxford, stands outside the Cedar Bucket Furniture Co., perched on a small hill overlooking the highway.
It was constructed in the 1970s by the original owners of the furniture company, the McPhails, to attract customers. The family has since turned over ownership to Oxford residents Rickey and Midge Britt.
“I think really think it’s adorable,” said co-owner Midge Britt. “We like to see the tourists come by to look at it, and it is interesting meeting people.
“One lady was from Germany,” she said. “It was just weird to see where they had read in a magazine about the biggest bucket, and then they’d come by.”
The bucket is 7-feet tall and can hold 1,500 gallons of water, though the inside is completely dry. Rather, it is filled with coins from tourists. It assumed the title of the “world’s largest” when a larger bucket in Murfreesboro, Tennessee became the victim of arson. There is talk, however, that this bucket may be rebuilt.
As for the title of “world’s largest,” it is more self-proclaimed rather than official. The owners of the store do not plan on inviting officials from Guinness World Records to Oxford.
The bucket is often visited by curious travelers, some of whom are checking the landmark off of their “bucket list.”
Lafayette County residents also think of it as quite a unique spectacle.
“Before you even begin to acknowledge the expert craftsmanship it took to bring this bucket to life,” said Joe Sutherland, an Oxford resident who is originally from Florida, “you have to marvel and wonder at the fact that you cannot find another cedar bucket of this size anywhere on the planet.
With the 2016 passing of Mary McPhail, the previous owner and beloved grandmother, the McPhail family sold the company in 2017 to the Britts. Mary’s death was particularly hard for the family and frequent customers as well, who associated their love of the store with the memory of her.
“She was one heck of a saleswoman,” said J.J. Piotrowski, Mary’s grandson and current employee of Cedar Bucket Furniture Co. “She was the backbone. But, she’s in a better place.”
Other employees remember Mary as the store’s designated friendly face who would sit in front of the door in her rocker with a book and smoke. They say she never met a stranger and always had something to say.