Obit of the Day: Hull House
On Friday, January 28, 2012 the most famous “settlement house” in the United States closed its doors. Hull House, founded by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr in 1889*, was a social service agency with a broad reach in the city of Chicago. Hull House offered services for men, women, and children - often newly arrived immigrants - and provided a broad array of programs and education. At one point “Hull House” covered thirteen blocks and “included a gymnasium, theater, art gallery, music school, boys’ club, auditorium, cafeteria, cooperative residence for working women, kindergarten, nursery, libraries, post office, meeting and club rooms, art studios, kitchen, and a dining room and apartments for the residential staff.” (from The Encyclopedia of Chicago)
Addams and Starr also used Hull House as a center for local and national political reform dealing with such issues as sanitation, prison reform, child labor, women’s suffrage, and unemployment benefits. Addams ran Hull House until her death in 1935. (In 1931 Addams became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom.)
Hull House closed due to a lack of funds. Although scheduled to close in March, the economic strain forced the organization to shut down two months early. There are several questions as to how insolvency occurred so quickly and with relatively little warning. (Read an article on the topic here.)
Hull House was 122 years old.
(Postcard courtesy of chicagopc.info)
* Hull House was named for its original owner, Charles Hull, who gave it to his niece Helen Culver. Culver leased it to Addams and Starr.