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HQB Administrative Records

Identifier: HQBCA-001


This collection contains administrative records of enduring historical value which originates or relates to Hallie Q. Brown Community Center (formerly, Hallie Q. Brown Community House). This includes financial documents, non-financial reports, correspondence, speeches, and other organizaional ephemera. Also included are documents which are external to the orginization, but are connected to the community which HQB serves.


  • 1929 - 2022
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1990


Biographical / Historical

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, located at 598 Central, was created to meet the needs of the growing black community and to improve relationships with the white community. In January 1929, an advisory committee met to formulate new plans for a community center to be housed at the former Central Avenue Branch of the Y.W.C.A. On April 1, 1929, Miss I. Myrtle Carden, the center’s first Executive Director, met with the Board of the St. Paul Urban League to discuss a name for the center. It was determined that the name for the community center should be chosen through an essay contest in which essayists profiled the life of an outstanding leader. Herbert Howell, a student at Hamline University, won the contest with his essay about the African American educator, elocutionist, women’s suffrage leader and author, Hallie Quinn Brown.

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.

From 1920 to the 1960s, the Rondo neighborhood, where HQB was first located, was a cornerstone of the largest Black enterprise and community in St.Paul, MN. Sadly, like many African American communities across the United States, Rondo was devastated by highway construction during the 1960s and early 70s, which cut the community in half. That division, combined with red lining and other racially unjust practices, forced dispersal of a vibrant Black community.

The initial idea and planning of moving from 553 Aurora to 270 North Kent began in 1951, with 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. Groundbreaking for the new HQB and Martin Luther King Center began on April 18, 1971. The first programs that the Center opened to the public were in Fall of 1972 and Spring of 1973. During the 70s, 80s, and 90s, HQB hosted a Health Clinic and a Branch Service Center alongside the organization's primary programs.

Today, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center is a multi-service center which houses the nationally recognized Penumbra Theatre Company, an Early Learning Center, After School Program, Summer Day Camp, Food Shelf, Clothing Closet and Community Archive.


20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This expanding collection is currently divided into the two following series:

Series I: Internal Administrative Records

Series II: External Administrative Records


Hallie Q. Brown Community Center. "Collection Overview: HQB Adminsitrative Records". Hallie Q. Brown Community Archives.

Physical Description

Condition of materials is varied.

Processing Information

Some items or files in this collection contain sensitive information and therefore are not made available to the public. If you are an academic researcher who would is interested in accessing restricted records, please email the HQB archivist and Executive Director. Permission requests are considered on a case by case basis.

HQB Administrative Records
In Progress
Created and described by Kayla T. Jackson, 2022.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
This finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Archives Repository

270 N. Kent Street
Saint Paul MN 55102 USA