A group of male investors and developers announced plans last week to close downtown Chicago’s Hard Rock Hotel and rebrand it in honor of Jane Addams.
Others online have noted the problems with this idea – the co-opting of feminism for commercial gain, among them – and the most intriguing to me is this one: No one affiliated with the St. Jane Hotel ever reached out to Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, site of the original Hull-House and itself a living memorial to Addams and her legacy of social justice.
Jennifer Scott, the museum’s director, issued this statement on its Facebook page:
“We appreciate the awareness that invoking Jane Addams’ name and legacy can bring to her life-long accomplishments and to her tremendous contributions to social change. Jane Addams and her social reform colleagues in Chicago dedicated their lives to fighting poverty, racism, gender oppression, unregulated labor and terrible housing conditions. We are encouraged by the promise of philanthropy on the part of the hotel owners. Should they want to deepen their connection to Addams’ legacy, perhaps they can create a new hotel model – one that champions equitable and inclusive labor practices, emphasizes public engagement and contributes regularly to causes that promote more humane living in Chicago. While the new owners never reached out to us, we would be happy to inform them more deeply about Addams’ legacy. The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum doors are open and free to the public.”
St. Jane Chicago is slated to open in the spring of 2018 to replace the current Hard Rock Hotel, 230 N. Michigan Ave., the Carbide & Carbon building.
The rebranding is being led by Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group and venture capital firm Becker Ventures. Aparium was founded in 2011 by Kevin Robinson and Mario Tricoci. Troy, Mich.-based Becker Ventures was founded in 1998 by Charles Becker.
Addams was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She founded the Hull House on Chicago’s West Side and is largely considered the mother of social work.