Baha'i House of Worship
Technically located just north of Evanston in Wilmette, the Bahai House of Worship is the oldest Bahai house of worship in the world, and the only one in North America. The land was purchased in 1908 with Bahai contributions from around the world. The cornerstone was laid by Abdul-Baha himself in 1912, but construction did not begin until the 1920s. It was a protracted process, as contributions were slow coming, and only contributions from Bahais were accepted. The superstructure was completed in 1931, but it did not open for worship until 1953. It was designed by famous French-Canadian architect Louis Bourgeois.
The building itself is highlighted by the dome. At 42m it rises above the lovely surrounding gardens and fountains. This is the largest poured concrete structure in the world. Downstairs is a visitor center and bookstore, with sufficient information about this somewhat obscure religion. Upstairs is the main prayer area, which is open to all. There is also an auditorium that seats more than 1,000. Keep an eye out for the number 9 (nine sides to the building, nine fountains, nine-sided stars, etc.), as it is a holy number in Bahai.
Anyone interested in religion or theology will want to stop by. The architecture and the peaceful grounds are also a highlight. As at all places of worship, remember to be respectful.
Address: 100 Linden Avenue, Wilmette, Illinois
Telephone: (847) 853 2300
Hours: Open daily 07:00-22:00
Admission: Free admission.