Hull House Museum
Jane Addams is regarded as one of the most respected women in history: she was the first woman to win the Nobel peace prize in 1931, she was an outspoken pacifist and suffragist, and she strove to make communities around her a better place to live. One of her most important contributions during her lifetime was when Addams, with her friend Ellen Gates Starr, opened the Hull House in 1889, the first settlement house in the United States. The house they would meagerly open to renters in a poor area of Chicago would become the first of many important achievements Addams made in her life, as well as an important part of Chicago history. The Hull House Museum, located now as a part of the University of Illinois at Chicago, presents two of the thirteen original Hull House buildings to the public. The free museum allows Chicago residents and visitors to explore the original Hull House as well as the Historic Residents Dining Hall.
When entering the museum, ask to see the 20-minute introduction video about Addams and Hull House history. The video will allow you to get a better sense of the different stages of the Hull House as you begin to look at artifacts, documents, photographs, and maps from different time periods. While the Hull House activities changed based on the current needs of the neighborhood, throughout the years it acted as a kindergarten and daycare to relieve working mothers, a place for English and citizenship classes, an employment office, and a place for the arts. The building also housed libraries, theater, art, and music classes. The complex eventually grew to 13 buildings, and held a summer camp, cultural events, and a place for clubs and meetings to gather.
Opened in what was then a low and middle class immigrant neighborhood, the house is now a National Historical Landmark and will celebrate its 122 year anniversary in 2011. In September 2010 the entire 2nd floor of the house will be open to the public in order to gain an even more personal experience of life at the Hull House. Jane Addams’s bedroom in the home is now on display, and the museum will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Jane Addams’s birth with the opening of a new permanent exhibit.
Hull House residents fought largely for reform in the treatment of youth in its early years. Addams and friends would form groups that would help spur the creation of the Federal Children’s Bureau in 1912 and the passage of a federal child labor law in 1916. Locally their groups protected immigrant and juvenile rights.
At the museum you can also elect to take a cell phone tour of the building where you can listen to contemporary activists, intellectuals and artists like Bill Ayers, Paula Giddings, and Vijay Prashad discuss Hull-House history.
Jane Addams died in 1935 and was buried in her hometown of Cedarville, Illinois, but the Hull House would continue to prosper. Demographics of the neighborhood would change, but the mission of Hull House remained the same, and is carried on today by the Jane Addams Hull House Association: to improve social conditions for under-served people and communities in the Chicago, Illinois area.
L: Blue Line (UIC-Halsted)
Bus: #8, 12
Driving: From 90/94 get off at the Adams Street Exit. Take Adams to Halsted.
Parking is available
Admission Hours & Prices:
Tuesday – Friday 10am – 4pm
Closed all major holidays and for a winter break.
No admission price is required, but they do encourage a donation.