The first time I drove north out of Chicago, along Lake Shore Drive, then on to Sheridan Road, I was wowed at every turn. As you enter the suburbs, also known as the North Shore, the homes are incredible and the lake just glimmers. But, coming around a particular bend in Wilmette, I nearly had to stop the car. Right before my eyes stood this enormous white structure, that took my breath away. The sun glimmered on the carved building, accentuating all of it’s details. I was intrigued and in awe. The Baha’i House of Worship, was calling to me.
While the space itself is gorgeous, I had to know more. What is this stunning building all about and why is here in the North Shore. So, I researched, and I thought I would share with you what I have found out.
- Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, teaches that there is one God whose existence is beyond our understanding. He is the Creator of everything, and although we may call Him by different names – God or Yahweh, Allah, Brahma, or the Great Spirit – we are speaking about the same loving Presence that has supported and guided humanity throughout history.
- The pivotal principle of the Bahá’í Faith is to unite all races and peoples in one universal Cause, the betterment of the world.
- This house of worship is maintained by voluntary contributions from member of the Baha’i faith.
- French Canadian architect Louis Bourgeois designed the temple.
- Bourgeois became a Bahá’í in New York City in 1907, and two years later responded to the call for designs for the Temple. In 1920, delegates to the Bahá’í National Convention unanimously selected his innovative design. Bourgeois traveled to Haifa (in present-day Israel) to consult with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. With ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s encouragement, Bourgeois refined and scaled down the size of his design.
- The Temple’s arabesque panels embrace natural light during the day and illuminate from within at night, creating a “Temple of Light and Unity.”
- Architect Louis Bourgeois consulted with John Earley, an expert in ornamental concrete, about constructing the dome from cast concrete panels mounted on a steel superstructure. To achieve Bourgeois’ vision of the whitest possible surface, Earley experimented with white Portland cement combined with crushed quartz.
- The Bahá’í House of Worship gardens are part of the sacred space. The nine gardens are planted with foliage of various colors and fragrances to convey the beauty of unity in diversity. The nine rectangular approaches to the Temple, some incorporating reflecting pools, are reminiscent of those found in the East. The nine circular gardens, with round fountains, represent Western landscapes and serve as outdoor rooms for prayer.
- The Temple project took 50 years and continued through two World Wars and the Great Depression. The building was financed entirely by voluntary contributions from Bahá’ís around the world. More than five thousand people gathered for dedication services as the Bahá’í House of Worship was opened to the public in May 1953.
If you have to worship, [just stroll the grounds and explore!] what better way to do that than in the most ladylike dress. This one called to me in the same way the temple did during that first sighting. I was in love just spotting it through the store window. Of course I went in, tried it on and was sold. Literally! The floral detail on the baby blue background is so sweet. The wrap style is very flattering on all body types, and the ruffle at the bottom just add the perfect detail. Propped against the gleaming white Baha’i Temple, it couldn’t be more perfect.
That drive I was telling you about, well, I take it quite often, and over the many years since my first viewing of the Baha’i, my sense of wonderment as I turn that particular bend has not stopped. This structure is magnificent! Whether you simply drive by, or take the time to stop and explore the lush grounds and intricate detailing of the building, it will be a site you won’t soon forget.
Signed with Style,