Jane Addams-Hull House Museum: A Journey Through Time and Social Revolution

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Visiting the Jane Addams-Hull House Museum has long been on my wish list of must-see historic sites.

After decades of living in Chicago of hoping for the chance, I can finally joyfully cross this destination off my bucket list! It was an educational journey through time for social transformation.

After my visit, I had a better understanding of how the home served as a beacon of hope in the community.

row of books

Who is Jane Addams-Hull

Jane Addams (1860-1935) was a pioneering American settlement activist, reformer, and author. She grew up in Cedarville, Illinois, and frequently witnessed poverty and human suffering. As a result, it shaped her desire to create social change.

After traveling Europe in 1883, she was inspired by the settlement house movement and endeavored to create a community center in this underprivileged Chicago neighborhood.

About the Jane Addams-Hull House

In 1889, Addams co-founded Hull House with her friend and partner Ellen Gates Starr.

The Hull House offered vital services for the low-income European immigrants of the community, including childcare, education classes, healthcare clinics, housing assistance, and art/music programs.

Addams lived at Hull House herself and embraced activism on issues like women’s suffrage, civil rights, ending child labor, and seeking world peace.

Her efforts led her to become the first American woman awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

Where the Museum is Located

The Jane Addams-Hull House Museum is located in the Near West Side neighborhood of Chicago. It occupies two of the original settlement house buildings from the Hull House social settlement, which was founded in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. 

The museum’s address is 800 South Halsted Street and it sits on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

How to Get to the Museum

From downtown Chicago, you can walk to Halsted Street and catch the #8 CTA bus to Halsted and Polk. There are many ways to get around Chicago including the elevator trains. The UIC Blue Line Station is the closest train stop.  

If you are using Divvy, Chicago’s bike share program, there is a bike dock directly across the street from the museum.

Museum Hours

The museum is closed on Saturday, Monday, and Federal holidays. They open at 10:00 AM on Tuesday through Friday and at Noon on Sunday.

Museum Admission

Admission to the museum is free, however, you can donate money in any amount.    

The Jane Addams-Hull House Museum

First Floor

children's learning section at jane addams-hull house
jane addams hull house 3
dining room at jane addams-hull house

Second Floor

single bed in room with floral wallpaper
fireplace, table, and grandfather clock in a bedroom
woman standig in art gallery at Jane Addams-Hull house
Jane Addams-Hull House Art Gallery

Interesting Facts

  • The Jane Addams-Hull House established the first public playground in Chicago
  • The settlement community had a theater, boys club, coffeehouse, day nursery, labor museum, and art museum.
  • The settlement offered classes in drawing, ceramics, bookbinding, weaving, painting, and sculpture
  • Residents of the house could be voted out after six months by other residents.
  • The settlement buildings were sold and neighborhood families were displaced to accommodate the UIC campus.
  • Jane Addams-Hull was once considered America’s most dangerous woman.
  • Not only is the architecture notable, but the decorative trim was designed by Charles Hull and carved by convict hands. As a philanthropist, he took an interest in the care and reform of prisoners.

Famous Residents of the Jane Addams-Hull House

  • Jane Addams – Museum founder, prominent social reformer and feminist
  • Ellen Gates Starr – A co-founder, activist
  • Florence Kelley – A labor and children’s rights activist
  • Dr. Alice Hamilton – The first woman appointed to Harvard Medical School faculty

Things to Know Before You Go

  • There is no handicapped access beyond the first floor
  • Divvy bikes across the street near the bus stop
  • The website offers a virtual tour of the home for free
  • The museum is near Greek town, where you can explore more of the neighborhood
weaving machine next to fireplace

Final Thoughts on the Jane Addams-Hull House Museum

I had mixed feelings after visiting the home. I empathized with the plight of immigrants seeking a better life.

Much like the late 19th century immigrants seeking refuge that Jane Addams aided through Hull House, modern-day migrants arriving in haven cities like Chicago face many of the same social reform challenges related to healthcare, wages, education, and quality of life – an ongoing struggle Addams spotlighted demanding progress to create a just and equitable society.

It was sad to see the destruction of a home that once sheltered the dreams and aspirations of many seeking opportunity in a new land.  At the same time, it is surrounded by an educational institution that makes it possible for students to pursue their dreams.  

Nonetheless, Addams’ writings and life’s work remain an inspiration for activism focused on nonviolence, freedom of expression, and ending discrimination.

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