Hull House was a settlement house on 800 S. Halsted, founded in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr that welcomed recently arrived European immigrants. By 1911, Hull House had expanded to thirteen buildings, and in 1912 it added a summer camp, the Bowen Country Club. Hull House became the gold star standard for settlement houses across the nation.
Inspired by the work of London’s Toynbee Hall and the 19th century women’s movement, Addams and Starr aimed to create “a community of university women” that provided social and educational opportunities for local working class people. Hull House offered classes in literature, history, art, sewing, cooking, and health; free concerts and contemporary lectures; a soup kitchen; and clubs for youth and adults. Addams believed in the three R’s of the settlement house movement: residence, research, and reform, which entailed “[c]lose cooperation with the neighborhood people, scientific study of the causes of poverty and dependence, communication of facts to the public, and persistent pressure for reform.”
On June 12, 1974, the House was designated a Chicago National Historic Landmark, and while the Association ceased operations in January 2012, the Mansion remains open as a museum.