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. It built the Hallie Q. Brown Community House between Mackubin and Kent to house its programs. The facility became the second-largest neighborhood center in Saint Paul, nurturing youth and providing a gathering place for African Americans. Later, the name was changed to the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center and a larger facility was built. Today the center includes the Martin Luther King Recreation Center and the nationally acclaimed Penumbra Theatre.

Original Published by: CultureBrokers Foundation, Inc. 2008. “Points of Entry: The African American Heritage Guide to Saint Paul.” , “Hallie Q. Brown Community Center,” Saint Paul Historical, accessed July 5, 2017,


The Hallie Q. Brown Center of St. Paul, MN, was incorporated on this date in 1929.

The center is one of the oldest African-American community service organizations in Minnesota. The Hallie Q. Brown Center’s story started in 1908 when Black members of the Odd Fellows and Masons fraternal lodges of St. Paul, purchased six lots on Aurora Street between Kent and Mackubin located within St. Paul’s largely African American Rondo neighborhood. There the organization began to serve the unmet needs of the Black community and create better relationships with the white community.

In 1914, the Union Hall Association was organized and it built a neighborhood center on one of the lots. From 1923-1929, the St. Paul Urban League and the YWCA contributed funds and other support.

In 1929, a new interracial committee was formed under the name The Hallie Q. Brown Community House and I. Myrtle Carden of Pittsburgh, PA., was hired as its first director. Carden served the community house for 20 years and left in 1949. During her tenure Hallie Q. Brown became the second largest neighborhood center in St. Paul.

Over the years, the center grew to provide educational, social, cultural, and human services activities for community residents of all ages. During the 1970s the organization’s name was changed to the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center. Also during this time it constructed a new, larger facility–the Martin Luther King Center on Kent Street to accommodate its wide-ranging programs.

Hallie Q. Brown thrives with a number of daily community and educational programs and has also been home to the outstanding Black theater, Penumbra Theatre.

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