City Cast

This Week in Chi History: Hull House

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on September 19, 2022   |   Updated on June 21
Children standing in a line at the Hull House on the Near West Side in 1908.

Children standing in a line at the Hull House on the Near West Side in 1908. (Chicago Daily News / Chicago History Museum / Getty)

Activists Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr moved into the city’s first settlement house on the Near West Side Sept. 18, 1889. 

Originating in London, settlement houses were a new approach to charity where reformers would live in the communities they were trying to help.

On Polk and Halsted, the Hull House started offering childcare, English classes, and art programming to the many new European immigrants in the area. With more community members and more services — lodging, a library, kindergarten, and more — the Hull House expanded to 13 buildings.

The Hull House prompted Addams and others to launch a powerful social justice movement that sparked a lot of change, from more neighborhood parks and library branches to a federal child labor law.

Many of the settlement buildings had been displaced by the University of Illinois Chicago’s campus in the ‘60s, but the dining hall and original mansion remain as a museum. 

Visit the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum to learn more about one of the country’s most-influential settlement houses. Also, check out this Hull House yearbook from 1906–07.

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