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Our History


Mary Virginia Merrick was born to upper-class Maryland family.


Merrick and her friends formed Christ Child Society in Washington, D.C. Early work included providing layettes, sending city children to camp, and forming alliances with other community organizations, all of which were later echoed by the Center in St. Paul.


Mr. and Mrs. HT Quinlan traveled from St. Paul to Washington D.C. on business. While there, Mrs. Quinlan met Ms. Merrick and was so inspired, returned to St. Paul fired up with the intention of inaugurating similar work. She imparted her enthusiasm to a group of friends and organized the St. Paul Chapter of the Christ Child Society. 


The Italian Society purchased the Hope Chapel, located just off lower Payne Avenue, and invited the Christ Child Society to operate it as a community center.


The Christ Child opened its doors in the Hope Chapel.


The Hope Chapel was destroyed by a fire, but immediately rebuilt on the same site.


The Merrick Community Center, named in honor of the founder of the Christ Child Society, was built with funds from St. Paul’s Community Chest Youth Campaign, the precursor to what we know as the Greater Twin Cities United Way.


Merrick Community Center Chartered


Merrick Community Services celebrates 100 years.

Mrs. HT Quinlan Organized the 
St. Paul Chapter of the Christ Child Society

Mary Virginia Merrick circa 1942