June 3, 2022 Give us a Sign! Comfort Kitchen plans business signage for historic Upham’s Corner home
Designing commercial signage for the Comfort Kitchen café and restaurant at the historic Upham’s Corner Comfort Station has been challenging. While HBI encourages tenant signage that attracts customers, we also want to honor the character of the historic building. And in the case of the Comfort Station – which historically served as public bathrooms for the streetcar system – there’s no obvious place on which to put a restaurant sign.
Quality materials go a long way toward meeting those objectives. Shiny, backlit signs are strongly discouraged, as are signs in windows that clutter and obstruct visibility into and out of the interior space. A sign should be big enough for the public to see, but not so big that it takes away from the historic integrity of the building. For that reason, installation matters; methods should minimize damage to the building materials. Generally, doing things to a historic building that can be reversed is most desirable, so we are usually very cautious in applying new signage where there hasn’t been any.
After mulling over several options, Comfort Kitchen’s design team is leaning toward painting Comfort Kitchen’s logo directly on the building. There is historic precedent for painted signage on building facades – especially on stucco and masonry. Many photos of 19th century buildings show painted signage on buildings, and some survive as “shadows” today. In the case of the Comfort Station, which has a painted stucco exterior, signage can easily be reversed with a new coat of paint, so will cause no real damage to the building. Discreet light fixtures will illuminate the façade and the business name at night.
After HBI reviews and approves a sign design, the City also weighs in, and some neighborhoods have guidelines for acceptable signage. The next step is to seek approvals from the Boston Landmarks Commission and Boston Main Streets, which is contributing funding toward the façade of the project through the City’s ReStore program.
Comfort Kitchen is still on track for a September opening. Stay tuned for more updates on the restaurants build out and preparations.