Sad news today. Hull House, the settlement house that Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr started in Chicago in 1889 to help immigrants and poor families, has run out of money and is closing its doors. The original Hull House was modeled on a reform movement in England, in which rich and or middle-class settlement workers, or residents, would live in a poor neighborhood and share their knowledge with their neighbors. There were classes in everything from basic childcare to citizenship.
By 1912, there were hundreds of settlement houses across the Unites States, including one in Miriam Josefsohn’s Portland:
I retrieved a caramel from the basket and gave it to Prudence, who clearly needed cheering up. You know, Portland has a settlement house, too, like Hull House, only smaller. Its called Neighborhood House, and it runs the same kind of programs for immigrants and poor families. I…um…volunteer there.
The real Neighborhood House was founded in 1905 by the Portland chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women. Early programs focused on vocational training, English, and American culture. It soon had a swimming pool, a health clinic, and a free kindergarten.
As with Chicago’s Hull House, Neighborhood House outgrew its single location. In the 1980s, it moved its administrative building to Southwest Portland, while establishing programs in about two dozen locations throughout the greater Portland area. The Cedarwood Waldorf School now occupies the original building.
Today the Neighborhood House organization serves about 18,000 people. The Hull House organization serves about 60,000 people a year. Correction. “Served 60,000 people.” No more. A sad day.