Devil Baby of Hull House : Chicago

Hull House Address – – 800 South Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois, USA – MAP

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.

 

Jane Addams, Hull House, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Jane Addams with the kids

Built in 1856 by real estate magnate Charles Hull in what was a rich part of the city. The neighbourhood 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 labour, 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.

Devil Baby of Hull House, Chicago, Illinois, USA

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)…

“The knowledge of the existence of the Devil Baby burst upon the residents of Hull-House one day when three Italian women, with an excited rush through the door, demanded that he be shown to them. No amount of denial convinced them that he was not there, for they knew exactly what he was like, with his cloven hoofs, his pointed ears and diminutive tail; moreover, the Devil Baby had been able to speak as soon as he was born and was most shockingly profane.”

 

She was not a fan of the attention this story brought to the house, saying…

“Throughout six weeks, as I went about Hull-House, I would hear a voice at the telephone repeating for the hundredth time that day,
‘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.

“Many of them who came to see the Devil Baby had been forced to face tragic human experiences; the powers of brutality and horror…”

 

For example, she said…

“They relate without flinching the most hideous experiences. ‘My face has had this queer twist for now nearly sixty years; I was ten when it got that way, the night after I saw my father do my mother to death with his knife.’”

 

No matter the cause, in the end this probably fake legend served a greater purpose.