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Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, Inc.. The King Center



  • Existence: 1929 - 2022


The following is an abridged history of the building of Hallie Q. Brown Community House and, later, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center. In 1914 the Union Hall Association was created to meet the needs of the growing black community and to improve relationships with the white community. In 1937, James E. Murphy and Earl C. Walker, both of the Union Hall Association, would notarize the warranty deed for Hallie Q. Brown House, Co., purchasing the land that the Hallie Q. Brown Community House would reside upon. That parcel of land is described as follows: Lots 17 and 18, Block 3, Mackubin and Marshall's addition to Saint Paul.

The facility became the second-largest neighborhood center in Saint Paul, nurturing youth and providing a gathering place for African Americans. It housed a daycare-nursery, senior/elder programming, youth groups, recreation and general meeting space. The initial idea and planning of moving from 553 Aurora to 270 North. Kent began in 1951, we an internal re-evaluation of HQB's programs. This means that from idea to breaking of ground at 270 N. Kent, this project took 20 years.

The project of building the new center, over this 20 year period and with the Cultural Arts wing attached, cost roughly 1.8 million dollars. June 10, 1964. HQB Building Committee meets with architect Mr. Lonnie Adkins, who recommends erection of a new facility. January 18, 1965. Agency enters into contract with Adkins, Jackels and associates for architectural services. January 17, 1966. HQB board meeting involving Miss Fern Colborn of National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Center, Mr. Jerecezek of United Fund, Mr. Adkins, Mr. Shippee of HRA meet to discuss neighborhood service center concept and land acquisition. August 17, 1966. Factors involved in the relocation of HQB write up is prepared by Henry R. Thomas. March 6, 1967. Meeting called by agency to discuss proposed building plans. The United Fund, Heldfeld HRA, Mr. Fricke, George Warner, Henry R. Thomas and Mr. Adkins are present. July 27, 1967. Letter from United Fund confirming grant of $150,000 from Buildings for Youth in 1958.

September 25, 1967. Meeting of HQB Board, relating to the location of MLK Center on Summit University Ave. October 27, 1967. Contract with United Fund 1968 Buildings for Youth, October 27, 1967 for $300,000. May 1968. Neighborhood facility grant application Part I, submitted to HUD by city. June 24, 1968. Acceptance of site chosen by HQB and promise of clearance by HRA. September 27, 1968. Request by building committe for 6 and a half acres bounded by Kent and Mackubin, Marshall and extending north half the block between Iglehart and Carroll. The HQB Building committee, Mr. Willet of Planning Council and architect Mr. Adkins meet. January 3, 1969. a sub-committee meets to approve the following permitted uses of the building: (1) Parks and Rec. (2) Probation Department of Ramsey County (3) Department of Public Safety. (4) Family Nursing. (5) Family Services. (6) St. Paul Council of Arts and Science. (7) Planned Parenthood. (8) Catholic Social Serivces. (9) Ramsey County Welfare. (10) St. Paul Mental Health Center. (11) HQB Community Center. Feb. 4, 1969. Notification of grant by HUD to Mr. Victor J. Tedesco for $864,612. March and April of 1969. Town hall meetings to discuss the plans and uses of HQB building. October 22, 1969. Board request from architect a site sketch. December 15, 1969. Notification from HRA that site for MLK Center can be conveyed after clearance by June 1. 1970. Feb. 20, 1970. Confirmation of grant of $999,334 from HUD with local matching funds of $484.266.

May 5, 1970. Special committee on affirmative action and equal employment opportunities appointed by board as sub-committee of building committee. July 30, 1970. City Council passes a resolution to vacate part of Iglehart Avenue. October 29, 1970, the United Fund held its 41stAnnual Meeting with members of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in attendance. Walter W. Fricke, the then President of HQB's Board of Directors stated that he would be excited to announce to the community of the day they had set with the St. Paul Housing Authority and St. Paul Parks and Rec. to break ground. November 17, 1970. Pre-bid conference at HQB. April 18, 1971. Groundbreaking ceremony for MLK at 1:30 PM. Representatives from the city , state and federal government, private and public agencies, and community residents were present. Robert Lee Shoffner of the St. Paul Housing Authority was the photographer that day. July 21, 1971. Request additional grant from United Fund, Buildings for Youth, for Cultural Arts Wing. October 6, 1971. Letter from United Fund and Council, Buildings for Youth confirming grant from Buildings for Youth of $325,000 for Cultural Arts Wing of MLK Center. The construction completed sometime in 1972.

The first programs open to the public were in the Fall of 1972/Spring of 1973. Other programs that HQB operated with during the 70s, 80s, and 90s included a Health Clinic and a branch service center. The Hallie Branch Service Center operated year-around from St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church in the western end of the Summit-University area one and a quarter mile from the Hallie Q. Brown-Martin Luther King Center. The Branch served as an outreach post for the HQB-MLK Center, devoting about half its effort to community work. Hallie's direct services in providing emergency food and free clothing are through the Branch. Community work included identifying needs and finding resources to meet those helping residents achieve their own goals and cooperating with other groups for community development and improvement. The Branch worked through five full-time and several part-time staff, through volunteers and organizations. Services included individual, family and group counseling; liason with youth, schools, parents and juvenile justice agencies in social adjustment and delinquency prevention through individual and group work.

The four locations that HQB have occupied are: 270 N. Kent, 553 Aurora Avenue, 608 Aurora Avenue (admin offices on the second floor), and 598 Central. The Executive Directors of HQB are as follows: I. Myrtle Carden (1929-1949); Alice S. Onque (1949-1965); Henry R. Thomas (1965-1978); Fred B. Williams (1978-1995); Richard M. Mangram (1996-2006); and Jonathan D. Palmer (2008-)

A history of the Hallie Q. Brown Community House can be found at the Minnesota Historical Society or at the University of Minnesota Libraries, under the following bibliographic entry: Onque, Alice S. History of the Hallie Q. Brown Community House: Plan B report. Published 1959. University of Minnesota, School of Social Work. (HV4196.S2 H1o).

Found in 76 Collections and/or Records:

Donald Walker, circa 1970

 File — Box: 2, Folder: 1
Scope and Contents

Black and white photograph of Donald Walker wood working.

Dates: circa 1970

Elders at HQB, circa 1980

 Item — Box: 1, Folder: 1
Scope and Contents

Black and white photos depicting seniors sharing a meal with one another at tables in HQB.

Dates: circa 1980

Elders play Bridge , October 1980

 Item — Box: 3, Folder: 2
Scope and Contents

Black and white photo of four elders sitting around a table, playing cards. A handwritten caption on the back of the photo, in blue ink, reads as follows:

Bridge. George Balon, Thelma Mayes, Harry Richardson, and Dave Mayer.

Dates: October 1980

Evelyn Robinson. For Outstanding and Dedicated Service, February 1992

 Item — Box: 4
Scope and Contents

Wooden plaque with gold lettering. Presented by the Golden Agers of Hallie Q. Brown Community Center to Evelyn Robinson in appreciation of serving 12 years as their president. The wooden plaque comes with a separate, printed certificate.

Dates: Issued: February 1992

Exiting the coat room, circa 1985

 Item — Box: 1, Folder: 1
Scope and Contents

Black and white photo of adults in heavy coats, leaving a coat room in Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.

Dates: circa 1985

Family dinner at HQB , circa 1980

 Item — Box: 2, Folder: 6
Scope and Contents

Black and white photograph of two young girls, a woman and a man standing together at a table in the HQB gym. Other tables and people can be seen behind them.

Dates: circa 1980

Fred Williams, circa 1975

 Item — Box: 2, Folder: 6
Scope and Contents

Black and white portrait of Fred Williams, a former director of Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.

Dates: circa 1975

Fred Williams at HQB

 Item — Box: 2, Folder: 4
Scope and Contents

Black and white photo of Fred Williams in his office at HQB, one of HQB's former Executive Directors.

Dates: Majority of material found within 1940 - 2000; 1900 - 2022

From Hardy Wright, May 1981

 Item — Box: 1, Folder: 2
Scope and Contents Two paper documents, one with typed print and one handwritten, contain correspondence regarding the need for a photographer for HQB News. The intial memo was written by Hardy Wright, HQB news ed. Branch director, to Bill Thompson and Fred B. Williams of the MLK and HQB Centers, respectively. Handwritten responses from Mr. Williams and Mr. Thompson are attached. The following is the reply from Fred B. Williams: Hardy...Your request to Bill Thompson is appropriate, but the use...
Dates: Other: May 1981

Golden Agers Scrapbook No. 1

Identifier: HQBCA-014

This collection includes one (1) scrapbook which previously belonged to a member of the Golden Agers Club at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center. This scrapbook contains mostly newspaper clippings, with some photographs, correspondence, and general biographical works.

Dates: circa 1940-1970; Majority of material found within circa 1940-1970