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Hull House is one of the first social settlements that was established in North America. It was founded in Chicago in 1889 when Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr rented an abandoned residence at 800 South Halsted Street that had been built by Charles Hull 1n 1856. Twelve large buildings were added from year to year until Hull House covered half a city block and included a nearby playground and a large camp in the country.

Inspiration for Hull House came when Addams visited Toynbee Hall, a pioneer settlement founded in London's East End. She found a group of university undergraduate residents sharing companionship and working for social reform. She and Starr decided to establish such a settlement in a comparable district in Chicago.

After raising enough funds to rent part of the Hull Mansion, Addams and Starr set out to aid the needy immigrants in the Halsted Street area. Hull House opened as a kindergarten but soon expanded to include a day nursery and infancy care center. Eventually its educational facilities provided secondary and college level extension classes as well as evening classes on civil rights and civic duties. Through increased donations more building were purchased and Hull house became a complex, containing a gymnasium, social and cooperative clubs, housing for children, and playgrounds.

Addams, Starr and other Hull House residents and associates were instrumental in the enactment of state child labor laws and in the establishment of juvenile courts and juvenile protection agencies. In addition, they assisted in the development of local trade union organizations, social welfare programs, and adult education classes. They also contributed to woman suffrage and the international peace movement.

A listing of some of the Hull House firsts.

First Social Settlement in Chicago
First Social Settlement with men and women residents
Established the first public baths in Chicago
Established the first public playground in Chicago
Established first gymnasium for the public in Chicago
Established the first "little theater" in the United States
Established the first citizen preparation classes
Established the first public kitchen in Chicago
Established the first college extension courses in Chicago
Established the first group work school
Established the first painting loan program in Chicago
Established the first free art exhibits in Chicago
Established the first fresh air school in Chicago
Established the first public swimming pool in Chicago

Initiated investigations for the first time in Chicago for:

Truancy
Sanitation
Typhoid Fever
Tuberculosis
Distribution of cocaine
Midwifery
Childrens reading
Infant Mortality
Newsboys
The social value of the saloon

The result of some these investigations led to the creation and enactment of the first factory laws in Illinois as well as the creation of the first model tenement code.

For more information I would suggest reading "Twenty Years at Hull House" by Jane Addams, published in 1906

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