Hull House Museumfeatures New Exhibits

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Byline: Caryn Rousseau Associated Press

At the turn of the 20th century, thousands of immigrants sought out Jane Addams Hull House in Chicago. There they received medical treatment at settlement house clinics, learned job skills through training classes and found community at an art gallery, gymnasium and gardening club.

The stories of Addams and the immigrants are told at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, which in December finished a major renovation following the 150th anniversary of Addams birth last fall. Visitors can now see new exhibits, walk into Addams restored bedroom and view two sides of the famous feminist social reformers life her Nobel Peace Prize and the hundreds of pages of her FBI file.

Hull House was the most well-known of the 400 settlement houses in the United States in the early 1900s. The settlements were designed to provide services to immigrants and the poor while uplifting them through culture, education and recreation. The legacy of Hull House remains relevant today, said Victoria Brown, a history professor at Grinnell College in Iowa and author of "The Education of Jane Addams."

"Were in a time right now of people kind of realizing that they need to work locally and they need to work with fellow citizens in their community across class and across race,"

Brown said. "That was certainly core to her convictions."

Hull House, now a National Historic Landmark, was built as a country estate by Charles Hull in 1856. Addams started renting the property in 1889. At its peak, Hull House served more than 9,000 people a week, offering medical help, an art gallery, citizenship classes, a gardening club and a gym with sports programs.

In the 1960s, there were plans to tear down the entire settlement to build what is now the University of Illinois-Chicago campus. Eventually two of the original 13 buildings were preserved and have housed the museum since 1967. The Hull House Association social service group still exists, but it has been decentralized throughout Chicago. The museum belongs to UICs College of Architecture and Arts.

The latest renovation started more than a year ago with $800,000 in grant money. Museumgoers can now walk up a curved wooden staircase to stand in Addams bedroom with its wallpaper of pink flowers and green leaves.

Her 1931 gold Nobel medal is in a glass case next to a clipboard that keeps her long FBI file together for visitors to flip through. …