Historic Boston Inc. presents at the 2024 MA History Conference

Historic Boston Inc. presents at the 2024 MA History Conference

On June 3rd, HBI made it out to the 2024 Massachusetts History Conference in Devens, MA. Historic Boston’s Senior Project Manager, Lisa Lewis, and Director of Real Estate Development, Tony Lopes, were in attendance as speakers to tell the story of HBI’s rehabilitation of the 1912 Upham’s Corner Comfort Station. Presented by the Massachusetts History Alliance (MHA), this year’s theme was History is for Everyone, and was an entirely fitting platform for telling the story of how an overlooked 20th-century comfort station became the incredibly successful Black-owned, immigrant-owned, and women-owned restaurant –  Comfort Kitchen.

Lisa and Tony gave their presentation after the inspiring keynote address by esteemed Native activists Larry Spotted Crow Mann and Rhonda Anderson. They are both founders and Co-Directors of the Ohketeau Cultural Center in western MA. Larry Spotted Crow Mann is a Nipmuc activist, author, poet, cultural educator and Traditional Storyteller. Rhonda Anderson is Inupiaq-Athabascan from Alaska, she is a Water Protector and an educator at her local schools and colleges in Massachusetts. A number of researchers and museum curators were honored with MHA awards, notably the curators behind the Somerville Museum’s “Museo Inmigrante: Stories of Resilience from Somerville’s Padres Latinos” exhibit.

Historic Boston’s talk “Preserving the Past, Nourishing the Future: The Upham’s Corner Comfort Station Project” received a good attendee turn-out, nearly filling the room. Tony and Lisa told the story of the Comfort Station’s $1.9 million rehabilitation from 2018 – 2022. 

Lisa and Tony presented the narrative of the acquisition, preservation, and rehabilitation of the Comfort Station, including all the ups and downs that come with making a space for a particular type of end-user, and the quick-thinking needed to keep a project on its course through the 2020 Pandemic’s construction shut down and subsequent cost increases. As happened, when the original end-user for the Comfort Station backed out of their bike-cafe concept, Biplaw Rai, Nyacko Pearl Perry, Kwasi Kwaa, and Rita Ferreira stepped up with their concept for the Comfort Kitchen.   

Historic Boston was pleased with the interest level in historic preservation and the natural alliance between history education and the protection and preservation of historic architecture. HBI’s rehabilitation mission can challenge the purists out there who treasure detailed restorations, but in this forum of history educators and advocates, there was deep appreciation of how HBI’s re-use of historic buildings brings benefits to their surrounding communities.

Thank you to all the attendees who stopped in to hear our story, and thank you to the Massachusetts History Alliance for inviting HBI to share one of our greatest success stories: saving the 1912 Upham’s Corner Comfort Station.