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Hull House



Postcard featuring Hull House Settlement. Early postcard featuring Hull House Settlement.

Founded in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, Hull House was the first Settlement House in Chicago. Located in the Charles Hull mansion on Chicago’s Near West Side, Hull House quickly grew to a complex of thirteen buildings, including a theater, art gallery, clubs, dining hall, nursery school, residence for working women, the only library in the neighborhood, and one of the first free gymnasiums in the country. More than a thousand people from the neighborhood came to the settlement each week for its education, artistic, and social programs.




The Hull House community encouraged a remarkable number of social reforms, many of which were pushed by women. Residents helped establish the world’s first juvenile court, the city's first public playground, and campaigned for improved housing regulations, sanitation, public schools, and ward politics. They also launched initiatives calling for passage of the Illinois’ Mothers’ Pension Law, occupational health and safety regulations, child labor laws, and woman’s suffrage.

Children painting for an art class outside Hull House. Children painting for an art class outside Hull House.
Portrait of Jane Addams. Jane Addams

Addams led Hull House until her death in 1935. By 1960, the settlement’s board was struggling over its place in a changing neighborhood, although many of its residents and supporters had a clear vision for its place in the city. In 1961, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley offered the Hull House site and surrounding neighborhood for a permanent campus in Chicago of the University of Illinois. [See: Chicago Circle Campus Site Selection.]


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