Chicago's Jane Addams Hull House to close

Hull House, the Chicago social services organization that Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams founded in 1889 to help thousands of immigrants adjust to life in America, will close this spring because of financial reasons, the charity's board chairman said Thursday.

Jane Addams Hull House Association has provided child care, domestic violence counseling, job and literacy training, services for senior citizens and housing assistance for 60,000 people annually in the Chicago area at nearly four dozen sites. The organization cited the current economic climate for increasing demand for services while compromising fundraising.

"During these challenging times, we have remained committed to the mission established by Jane Addams more than 120 years ago," said Board chairman Stephen Saunders. "Now, our goal is to ensure the families and individuals we serve continue to have access to the services they need. This was a very difficult decision, but it was the responsible thing to do."

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 to the poor while uplifting them through culture, education and recreation. 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.

The organization will file bankruptcy protection in the first quarter of this year. The decision to close came after the agency's management and board of trustees worked for two years to reduce operating costs and improve services, officials said.

A spokeswoman for Metropolitan Family Services said the organization is in talks with Hull House on taking over that organization's programs. The last events listed on the calendar posted on the Hull House website take place in March.

The Hull House agency isn't affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago's Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, which will remain open. The Hull House site on Chicago's West Side is a National Historic Landmark.


Associated Press writer Carla K. Johnson contributed to this report.