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Hughes Conoco Service Station

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    In 1957 Edwin Hughes leased a Conoco service station located on the corner of 4th & Taylor, becoming the first African-American in Topeka to sell gas that was supplied by a major petroleum company. He was also one of the few African-Americans to operate a business outside of Topeka's established black commercial district (SE 4th & Quincy streets, extending west to S Kansas Ave. and east to SE Jefferson St.) The service station was initially constructed in 1930 and was intended to pull in traffic from all directions due to its proximity to two arterial streets. It also has architectural significance as an early 20th century Tudor Revival-style infrastructure.

    But the Hughes Conoco Station is but a footnote in the legacy of Edwin Hughes. Born in Oklahoma, Hughes joined the Army in 1943 and served in three European invasions. He left the service at the end of the war and moved to Topeka in 1947 to expand his knowledge of automotive mechanics. It was in 1957, after being turned down a number of times, that Hughes became owner of the service station. However, his contributions to Topeka did not stop there. Soon after, he became involved in sponsoring and coaching local traveling basketball teams. JoJo White, an All-American at the University of Kansas and gold medal Olympian, was on of Hughes's players. Hughes was also involved in the Topeka Rites of Passage, NAACP, and the East End Neighborhood Association. In 2003 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Medal b Living the Dream Inc. in recognition of his community service. Then, in 2005, Hughes was inducted into the Topeka Business Hall of Fame. The Hughes Conoco Service Station may be a part of the Ward-Meade neighborhood, but Edwin Hughes's humility and compassion have become a part of Topeka.