Phyllis Wheatley Community Center

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Phyllis Wheatley Community Center

Address: 1301 10th Avenue
Neighborhood/s: North, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Moved from Location: 809 Aldrich Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN
Current Function: Organizational
Current Function: Community Center
Other Current Function: Community Center

North Minneapolis Hennepin County, Minnesota County

Phyllis Wheatley Community Center
(44.9880193° N, 93.2968599° WLatitude: 44°59′16.869″N
Longitude: 93°17′48.696″W



Phyllis Wheatley Community center opened its doors in 1924 as a settlement house and for over 75 years it has remained a cornerstone for North Minneapolis. It was founded by a group of local females who were concerned over the livinng conditions of the area's African American population. Initially the plan was to build a home for African American girls; however, an in depth study suggested that their was a pressing need for a facility that could serve all segments of the African American community. Two of the early founders, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Duncan recalled that during the 1920's, African Americans had access to few recreational facilities, hotels, restaurants, and theaters. The Women’s Christian Association, with funds from the Council of Social Agencies, converted the old Talmud Torah School at 808 Bassett Place into a settlement house which they named after Phyllis Wheatley, an 18th century freed slave who became a published poet. The founding women's goal was to "educate children, young people, and adults through democratic group work, to relate them to the improvement of living conditions in the nieghborhood and bring their neighborhood interest into relationship with the larger community".

In its early years, Phyllis Wheatley Community Center was a place where young African-Americans met for recreation, fellowship and skill development. Later it evolved into a home-away-from-home for numerous African-American civic leaders, educators, entertainers and students. In 1929 it vacated the old facility and moved to a large new 2 story building at 809 Aldrich. At the time the facility seemed luxurious, the second floor included 18 bedrooms and served as a hotel for travelers. Some of it's notable guests include Marian Anderson, W.E.B. DuBois, and Duke Ellington. In addition, the second floor had a dining room, kitchen, parlor, a men’s club room, and a dental and infant welfare clinics. On the first floor are the office rooms, a fine library, a well furnished large room, the gymnasium and auditorium combined, and the nursery which is a unit of five rooms. The nursery could accomodate 36 children, and they would accept those age 6 months to 12 years. In the high basement are a large kitchen, 2 club rooms used by the girls and boys and 3 dressing rooms for each group, an office, and a laundry.

Today the facility resides at 1301 10th Avenue. There are integrated programs that can serve an individual's needs from infancy through their senior years. Programs address the needs of children, youth, families and elders and provide guidance and assistance to help individuals and families empower themselves. In addition to staff, the center is aided by volunteers, and the local high school, North High, sends 18 students to help with the work in connection with their own school work.

Importance to the North Side Community

The Phyllis Wheatley Community Center/Settlement House acted and still acts as an organization that helps to foster closer community ties. This section allows visitors to see how the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center did and does for the African American community in the North Side what the Emmanuel Cohen Center did for the Jewish Population.

Memories and stories

"'We've already lost a generation of kids'" to drugs, crime and poor education, said Danny Davis, a former director of Phyllis Wheatley. 'I see Phyllis Wheatley as the last hope for a lot of people in this community. Hell, we're dying. Our kids are dying of drugs, our older people are leaving. We have a long way to go to pull this community together.'"
-Wendy S. Tai, Staff Writer. Star Tribune. Minneapolis, Minn.:Sep 16, 1988. p. 01A


65}px This place is part of
Public History 3001 Class Project

Related Links

Photo Gallery


City of Minneapolis. Agency Report, 1938 Community survey of Social and Health Work in Minneapolis: Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, by David Liggett , Minneapolis, 1938.

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