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The Bahá'í Temple: One of the Seven Wonders of Illinois!
A Beautiful House for All
The Bahai House of Worship in Wilmette
As you glance through a pamphlet showing tourist attractions around Chicago, you'll see a picture of a striking, blazing-white temple skirting the lake just 10 minutes north of the city.
This is the Bahai House of Worship also called the Bahai Temple. People visit here to enjoy the garden pathways and the view of the lake. People also visit to admire the exquisite architecture.Many come to sit quietly to meditate or pray.This House of Worship is open to everyone.photo by author
Corinne True, Mother of the Temple
The History of the Temple
A group of Chicago Baha'is started meeting in 1903 to discuss building a Bahá'í House of Worship. It would be the first of its kind in North America. One of them, Corinne True, traveled to Palestine to get advice and direction from 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who at that time was the spiritual leader of the faith.
'Abdu'l-Bahá approved the temple, but suggested that it be built outside the city near the lake. They started raising funds from Baha'is in the U.S. and Baha'is from around the world. Corinne took such a strong lead they called her 'Mother of the Temple.'Eventually they decided the perfect area would be Wilmette and Bahai's started procuring the land.
The Groundbreaking Ceremony
In 1912, during his travel to the west, 'Abdu'l-Bahá came to the ground breaking ceremony and laid the cornerstone. It was a historical event. Thousands of people and dignitaries were there. There was excitement in the air about what shape this symbol of humanity's unity would eventually take.
America is a great instrument for the accomplishment of world unity. No other nation of the world stands in a similar position of influence and responsibility. You are living upon the great continent of the West, enjoying the perfect liberty, security, and peace of this just government. There is no cause for sorrow or unhappiness anywhere...for in this human world there is no greater blessing than liberty.— 'Abdu'l-Bahá
Baha'i House of Worship
Now they needed to pick the perfect person to design the building. They finally settled on the French architect Louis Bourgeois'. Since the nine-pointed star is one of the symbols of the Bahá'í Faith, the domed structure needed to have 9 sides. The foundation hall was finished in 1922 and by 1931, a contractor finished the underlying structure.
Then John Earley, a famous artisan and creator of the 'Earley Process,' was hired to do the concrete cladding. Cladding is the process of putting one material over another. In this case, the cladding was made of cement concrete and clear and white quartz over the skeletal structure. The exterior was finished in 1943 and proved to be more than dazzling.
Bourgeois' died before finishing the interior design plans, so Alfred Shaw was hired to work on the detailing. Another man (Hilbert E. Dahl) was hired to plan the gardens and landscaping.photo by author
The American People have a real love for advancement. They are not content to stand still. They are most energetic and progressive. When you see a tree growing and developing, be hopeful of its outcome. Lofty ideals find a quick acceptance among [the people of the West] and today the loftiest ideal of all is devotion to the unity of mankind and universal peace.— 'Abdu'l-Bahá
Corinne True at the Dedication Ceremony
The House of Worship was finally dedicated May 2, 1953. Corinne True, while in her 90's, was at the dedication ceremony. To see her dream come to fruition must have been overwhelming for her and all who helped her.Facts:*In 1978 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.*In 2007 the Seven Wonders of Illinois were announced which included the Bahá'í House of Worship.
A Basic Book on the Bahá'í Faith
An overview of the Bahá'í Faith written by a Bahá'í. The first chapter is a little dense with historical background. As far as beautiful music on a CD I would recommend Sacred Songs Live at the Bahá'í House of Worship. This collection of choral pieces includes selections from Christian and Bahá'í religious music.
The Beauty of this Building Inspiring
At the top of the inside of the structure, there is a dome ceiling with intricate carvings and at the center are the words in Arabic 'Greatest Name' or 'Glory of God.' This is pertaining to the founder of the Bahá'í faith, Bahá'u'lláh.The interior pillars have inscriptions and other religious symbols: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hindu are all represented along with the Bahá'í nine-pointed star.The House of Worship plans many events throughout the year; they include meetings, speakers and concerts (it seats about 1000).
My Family Visit to the Baha'i Temple
My Personal Story
My young uncle (my mom's baby brother), his wife and daughter live just outside Chicago. One summer we drove from Virginia to visit them and had a terrific time. They took us all around the city and by the lake.One of our excursions took us to the Bahai House of Worship. As a Bahai, I had always wanted to see this beautiful temple.It was a gorgeous day as we approached and then parked the car. I kind of felt like a pilgrim as we made our way up to the building. We walked a little about the gardens. Looking up, I could see the concrete structure was formed with a lacy delicacy. As I walked inside the structure, the breeze from the lake followed me. An attendant asked me and the others to be silent as we walked around because people inside were praying.
Finally being there was so joyful and peaceful. I was so glad to share this with my family.