History of the Hull House
Within the former settlement home called Hull House lives a legend that helped spawn the movie “Rosemary’s Baby”. Founded in 1889 by Jane Addams, Hull House is where newly arrived immigrants could find shelter.
Built in 1856 by real estate magnate Charles Hull in what was a rich part of the city. The neighborhood declined. That’s when Jane Addams took over.
It started as a shelter for woman, tending to them with midwives, and sheltering them from abusive husbands.
This house began some very important ideas for the United States, including issues with child labor, women’s suffrage and healthcare reform. This may be the location for the beginnings of Social Welfare.
Devil Baby Legend
The Devil Baby was said to be born to an unknown woman. When seen by the midwives, they screamed and wouldn’t go near it. The mother accepted her baby and saw past its monstrous appearance.
The legend states that the baby was born a monster because his father yelled to heavens in the frustration of being given only daughters. He yelled, “I would rather have the devil in this house than another daughter!”
Could it be just a legend?
Jane Addams thought so (from her detailed article in The Atlantic)…
She was not a fan of the attention this story brought to the house, saying…
‘No, there is no such baby’
‘No, we never had it here’
‘No, he could n’t have seen it for fifty cents’
‘We did n’t send it anywhere because we never had it’
‘I don’t mean to say that your sister-in-law lied, but there must be some mistake’
‘There is no sue getting up an excursion from Milwaukee, for there is n’t any Devil Baby at Hull-House’
What it brought Jane was stories of tragedy and triumph of amazing women who came to see the Devil Baby but instead told their story.
For example, she said…
No matter the cause, in the end this probably fake legend served a greater purpose.
Read about another local legend in Vermont