Failing in her longheld goal to become a doctor, dropping out of a med school after a spinal injury and a nervous breakdown, Jane Addams did the next best thing: She spent two years traveling in Europe, which laid the foundation for her second foreign tour, when she secretly studied the world's first settlement house in London's East End with dreams of starting one in America with her girlfriend Ellen Gates Starr. They did it, opening Chicago's renowned Hull House in 1889, built on the three R's: residence, research, and reform. Their primary social causes were healthcare, education, immigration, child labor, and women's suffrage. At its peak Hull House accommodated two thousand visitors a week in its free lectures, concerts, library, book bindery, gym, bathhouse, coffeehouse, clubs, drama group, music school, art gallery, nursery, kindergarten, and adult classes, ultimately inspiring widespread continuing education programs throughout the nation and nearly 500 copycat settlement houses by 1920. A charter member of the American Sociological Society in 1905, a cofounder of Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party in 1912, Addams was elected president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1915. Sixteen years later she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1931. She died in 1935, still running Hull House which had expanded to a compound of thirteen buildings. For a private escape in every sense, she shared a summer house in Bar Harbor, Maine with her longtime partner Mary Rozet Smith. They are shown together above circa 1896 and at left thirty years on.
After 122 years, Hull House Association abruptly ceased operations earlier this year due to bankruptcy, denying some 300 employees severance pay, earned vacation, and continued health coverage. They provided services to 60,000 people annually. The mansion remains open as a museum.