In a rebroadcast of a popular program from 2010, TruthToTell looks at the first two of four major community centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul which started life as Settlement Houses, where well-heeled families bought buildings, lived in poor neighborhoods and served their neighbors and new Americans providing opportunities to eat, play, gather, and learn how to be citizens, homemakers, and speak English, while preserving tradition, language and culture.
Some called it Americanization (a good thing at the time-or was it?), some called it social engineering or control (always controversial), but settlement houses are celebrating yet another milestone with the 100th anniversary of Jane Addams’ biography, the story of the patron of Chicago’s Hull House among the great celebrated advocates of the East End London-born movement of 1880.
In part I, we speak with key movers at Minneapolis’ Pillsbury United Communities (which combined Pillsbury House, Waite House and Unity House in Cedar-Riverside, South Minneapolis and North Minneapolis) and St. Paul’s Hallie Q. Brown Community Center – a tribute to St. Paul’s African-American leaders’ resolve to provide the same serves other settlement houses had provided for some 30 to 40 years, but had denied access to them.
In part II, we hear from leaders at two other historic settlements – Phyllis Wheatley Community Center – the Minneapolis counterpart to Hallie Q. Brown – and long-lasting Neighborhood House, which started serving St. Paul’s Russian Jews in the 1880s, became a Mexican centerpiece and evolved into a durable community center serving all new Americans and always on St. Paul’s West Side.