Rondo's Legacy Joins Permanent Exhibit at the Minnesota History Center

New section debuts July 16 during 30th Anniversary of Rondo Days Celebration


Miss Hallie Q. Brown and Mr. Popularity contest, Hallie Q. Brown Center, St. Paul, about 1956. Hallie Q. Brown was a popular community center in the Rondo neighborhood.

The story of Rondo, a thriving St.Paul African American community torn apart by I-94, will soon be part of “Then Now Wow,” a permanent exhibit at the Minnesota History Center, just in time for the 30th anniversary Rondo Days parade and festival. The new Rondo section will debut Tuesday, July 16 at 6:30 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting inside the exhibit and an outdoor concert at 7 p.m.

Miss Hallie Q. Brown and Mr. Popularity contest, Hallie Q. Brown Center, St. Paul, about 1956. Hallie Q. Brown was a popular community center in the Rondo neighborhood.

“Rondo was Minnesota’s largest African American community and it’s still alive in the hearts and minds of many who grew up there,” said Ellen Miller, Lead Exhibit Developer for “Then Now Wow.” “It’s important that Rondo be included in “Then Now Wow,” an exhibit featuring Minnesota's vibrant and varied people and places."

The new section, titled “Rondo: A Community of Memory and History,” was developed in collaboration with the Rondo Ave, Inc. Board of Directors. Rondo Days co-founders Marvin Anderson and Floyd Smaller, Jr. served as historical advisers. The section features historical images, first-person reflections, oral histories and videos about the way Rondo residents worked, played and socialized.

“Rondo was a source of great pride and energy, an oasis from the larger community,” said Anderson, who grew up in the Rondo neighborhood. “Our goal to preserve the history and legacy of Rondo is being realized through our relationship with the Minnesota Historical Society,”

Free Outdoor Concert Celebrates Rondo

After the ribbon-cutting, visitors are invited to take in the jazz, rhythm and blues of the Rockin’ Rondo Quartet with T. Mychael Rambo and Friends on the plaza of the Minnesota History Center. The free event, presented in collaboration with Rondo Avenue, Inc., celebrates community spirit through songs, storytelling, poetry and dance. Appearances by the Half Pintz Drill team, Walker West Jazz Ensemble and special surprise guests. Dance instruction begins at 6:30; live music begins at 7 p.m.

About Rondo

Rondo, a thriving African American community in St. Paul, was virtually eliminated by construction of the I-94 freeway in the 1960s. Over the past three decades the Rondo Days celebration has featured parades, music and activities that resurrect the proud legacy and memories of the old neighborhood. To learn more about the 30th anniversary celebration of Rondo Days, visit

About “Then Now Wow”

Dedicated entirely to Minnesota history, “Then Now Wow” is the largest exhibit ever created by the Minnesota Historical Society, with 14,000 square feet of gallery space. Designed primarily for children, visitors of all ages will enjoy exploring Minnesota’s distinctive places from the prairies and forests to the cities, along the way they'll meet the people who have made their homes here.

Exhibit & Program Support

“Then Now Wow” is funded in part by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. The Minnesota state legislature appropriated $2,500,000 in ACHF funds to the Minnesota Historical Society “for an exhibit on the regional, local, and cultural diversity of Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage,” Laws of Minnesota, 2009, Chapter 172, Article 4, Section 2(e).

Major support is also provided by Target, the 3M Foundation, the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, the Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services with additional support from the BNSF Foundation, Rosemary and David Good Family Foundation, Grotto Foundation, Hardenbergh Foundation, Dr. William F. and Hella Mears Hueg, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation and the George W. Wells, Jr., and Mary Cobb Wells Exhibition Fund.

Hours and location

The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Exhibit gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays (admission is free on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m.), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651-259-3000 or 1-800-657-3773.

Admission to "Then, Now, Wow" is included with regular History Center admission of $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and college students, $6 for children ages 6 to 17; free for children age 5 and under and Minnesota Historical Society members.

The Minnesota History Center holds the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. The History Center is home to an innovative museum, engaging public programs, a research library, distinctive gift shops and an award-winning restaurant.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.


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