Twenty-five years ago, on May 1 in the year 1912 the Baha'is and friends from near and far gathered on the grounds at the northwest corner of linden avenue and Sheridan road, Wilmette, to await th evisitation by 'Abdu'l-Baha, the son of Baha'u'llah the Founder and author of the Baha'i Faith, 'Abdu'l-Baha being the appointed expounder of his teaching and "Center of his Covenant."
A Marquee tent capable of holding 500 persons had been erected on the plateau which occupied the southeastern portion of the grounds; and a special entry way for 'Abdu'l-Baha's carriage had been prepared about the middle of the eastern side of the tract. 'Abdu'l-Baha made his entrance, however, from the northern side, and the majesty and simplicity of his mien as he briskly advanced on foot towards the tent--a far spread hue of the friends forming an escort just behind him--constituted a cene which will be remembered by those who witnessed it as one of the most impressive experiences of their lives.
Inside the tent seats for about 300 had been arranged in three concentric circles with a broad open space in the center, whle around the outside circle ran a broad perambulatory in which standing room was found by those for whom the seating accomodations did not provide. The inner space was reached by equidistant aisles or entrances separating the seats, and through one of these, on athe southeast side of this simply arranged place of worship 'Abdu'l-Baha advancd to the inner circle and there delivered his dedicatory address.
At the conclusion, the scene of this historic occasion was shifted from the tent to the open where in the great amphitheatre afforded by the woods, fields and the expanse of water, ground was broken for this great edifice. For the doing of the first work a golden trowel was presented. Restoring the precious emblem to its leather case, 'Abdu'l-Baha next called for the implements necessitated by the gravelly nature of the soil and in response was brought first an axe and then a shovel. With these tools of every day life of the workers of the world, 'Abdu'l-Baha and friends from every race present, excavated a resting place for a stone which had been brought to the spot as a loving contribution of material and real labor by an humble woman of the West with the assistance of an Oriental Baha'i. it was truly a symbolic seed for countless thousands of similar sacrificial contributions. No official program was made in advance, but under the immediate inspiration this initial labor was thus made typical of united and harmonius volunteer service by different races, creeds, and tongues, whose names were mentioned as some native son or daughter in turn took hold of axe or shovel. Persia, Syria, Indian, Arabia, Japan, South Africa, England, France, Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Jews of the world, the North American Indians were among the races and countries thus successively represented, and finally 'Abdu'l baha did the closing work and consigned the stone to its excavation, on behalf of all the people of the world.
Beginnings of Temple
Thus in 1912 ws the foundation laid of the Universal House of Worship in Wilmette, since when, (continued on Page 30) through voluntary contribution from Baha'is of many countries, teh present world famous edifice has arisen, step by step, as the funds were made available, through days of both prosperity and of depression in the world. First the 9 caissons were sunk, 126 feet below ground to bed rock, and the stark concrete foundation, holding within however Foundation hall, a nine sided room, harmonius and attractive for temporary occupancy, and will eventually house the National Baha'i Archives. Then the superb super-structure of reinforced concrete, built to stand through the centuries and which building experts have so admired that they have expressed regrets that it should ever be concealed. Then the majesty and exquisite tracery of the unique dome was revealed. Ever since, all have awaited the time when it should be possible for the whole edifice to be clothed in its lacy envelope, and the gardens and surrounding landscape be developed.
That time has arrived, through the motivating impulse given by Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha'i Faith throughout the world, and by the ardent response by the believers Plans are already under way for the development of the entire outer ornamentation and the raised gardens with their landscaped surroundings. More than a year may elapse before any visible sign will appear on the grounds in Wilmette, but this new and beautiful art of moulding the pure quartz requires much time and the most skilled artizans. Some important preliminary work is now beginning, and before 1944 which marks the 100th anniversary of the inception of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, by his forerunner the Bab, this Temple, it is hoped will stand in outward completion a symbol of the Oneness of mankind.