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Hull House Association To Shut Down

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Hull House

(Credit: Jane Addams Hull House Association)

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UPDATED 01/20/12 5:42 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Jane Addams Hull House Association, one of the oldest and most famous social service organizations in Chicago, will shut down in a couple of months.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, officials at Hull House say fundraising could not keep pace with the demand for its services, which has included child care, domestic violence counseling, job and literacy training, housing assistance and services for seniors.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

“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.”

He said the decision was “difficult,” but said it was the responsible thing to do.”

Metropolitan Family Services confirms that it is in dialogue with the Hull House group to assume some of is operations, but Family Services President/CEO Ric Estrada said a lot of it is up to the major underwriters of Hull House Association programs.

“We know we want to help. But we don’t know what stage they are at with the different funders,” he said.

Currently, the Jane Addams Hull House Association provides activities and assistance at nearly four dozen sites.

A century ago, Hull House was perhaps the best-known of the 400 settlement houses in the United States.

The Hull House was founded as a settlement house in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. Its first location was on the city’s Near West Side, and originally served an assortment of recent European immigrants.

Hull House became the best-known of the 400 settlement houses in the United States. The settlements were designed to provide services to immigrants and to the poor while uplifting them through culture, education and recreation.

The Hull House began with just the mansion that bears its name, but later expanded to a 13-building complex and drew a group of residents – largely women – who became prominent social reformers, the Encyclopedia of Chicago recalled.

The original Hull House settlement was displaced by the construction of University of Illinois at Chicago campus in the 1960s, although the mansion remains as a museum on the UIC campus at 800 S. Halsted St.

Afterward, Hull House moved its operation to a former American Legion Hall at 3212 N. Broadway in the East Lakeview neighborhood, which became the Jane Addams Hull House Center.

The Broadway facility offered art classes, adult literacy courses, child care and theatre programs to the working class residents of the neighborhood, the Chicago Reader recalled. It also became the home the Lakeview Pantry free food pantry, and several theatre companies, including the Steppenwolf.

But the Hull House Association decided to sell the building in 2002, and it was remodeled to become the fashionable Lakeview Athletic Club.

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 Hull House Association will file for bankruptcy protection before the process of shutting down begins. There are no events listed on its Web site calendar after March 27.

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