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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:

Lonnie O. Adkins Commemorative Plaque, 1973

 Item — Box: 2, Object: 8
Identifier: 016.02.8
Scope and Contents

Inscription reads

In memory of Lonnie O. Adkins for his outstanding contributions to the cultural and economic welfare of black people and the total community as architect and builder of human dignity.

The plaque was made for Hallie Q. Brown Community Center by the organizations' Board of Directors in 1973.

Dates: 1973

Man carrying two coolers , circa 1980

 Item — Box: 1, Folder: 10
Scope and Contents

Color photograph of a man carrying two beverage coolers outside of Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.

Dates: circa 1980

Man organizing supplies, circa 1980

 File — Box: 1, Folder: 10
Scope and Contents

Black and white photo of a white man organizing school supplies from a large cabinet to pack a bookbag.

Dates: circa 1980

Man speaking with coworker, circa 1980

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

Black and white photograph of a man, standing in an office at HQB, looking down to talk to a seated coworker.

Dates: circa 1980

Man with an afro wearing a turtleneck sweater, circa 1970

 Item — Box: 1, Folder: 8

Membership Roster of the Golden Agers of HQB, 1992

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

Pale yellow pamphlet includes members of the Golden Agers Club (now known as the Magnificent Golden Agers) and their addresses. Evelyn Robinson's name is written on the cover. Includes five white slips of paper with handwritten notes.

Dates: 1992

"Police Officier Visit", 1990

 Item — Box: 2, Folder: 4
Identifier: I.HQBC.530022
Scope and Contents

Officer Debbie Montgomery visiting children at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.

Dates: 1990

Programs of Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, 1980 - 1981

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

Yellow-orange brochure outlining various programs at HQB and MLK centers. This includes: Daycare; Latch Key program; various Senior Citizen programs; Homemakers helper program; various after school and evening programs; and the branch service center.

Dates: 1980 - 1981

Robert Lee Shoffner Photograph Collection

Identifier: HQBCA-010

This collection contains 107 photographic prints taken by Robert L. Shoffner, who worked for the Housing and Redevelopment Authority of the City of City of St. Paul, MN. The subject of the majority of the prints is the building and construction of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center/MLK Center at 270 N. Kent St. The remainder are images of staff members at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in the HQB Library.

Dates: circa 1972