Washington Baha’i History Museum: One More Reason to Visit the Pacific Northwest

Take a virtual tour of the new Washington Baha’i History Museum in Bellevue, Washington. The museum is located just east of Seattle, near the shore of Lake Sammamish, and inside the stunning Eastside Baha’i Center. The museum is already open, but a grand opening celebration is scheduled for December 15. 

The History Museum includes a tea room with fine china and a selection of teas and coffees to enjoy by a cozy fireplace, a popcorn machine, and small tables with crafts and games for visiting children.

But the real reasons for visiting are the displays–using framed portraits, historical photographs, posters, books, collectibles, and artifacts–to illustrate stories about the early believers (dating from 1905) in the Pacific Northwest and other early Baha’is. Excerpts from the diaries of those who traveled to San Francisco in 1912 to meet ‘Abdu’l-Baha are highlights. Displays show how the Seattle Baha’is taught and traveled all over the world.

Some of the historical figures featured include:

–       Thornton Chase (the first American Baha’i)

–       Kate Ives (the first American female believer)

–       Robert Turner (the first African American Baha’i)

–       Fred Mortensen (who traveled by rail to meet ‘Abdu’l-Baha at Green Acre)

–       Martha Root (a Hand of the Cause of God)

–       Corinne True (another Hand of the Cause of God)

–       Howard Colby Ives (who wrote movingly about meeting ‘Abdu’l-Baha)

–       Clara and Hyde Dunn (Hands of the Cause of God in Australia)

–       Lua Getsinger (named “Herald of the Covenant” by `Abdu’l-Baha)

–       Phoebe Hearst (an early Baha’i in California)

–       Agnes Parsons (an early Baha’i working on race unity in Washington, D.C.)

–       Ida Finch (at early Baha’i in the Pacific Northwest and a traveling Baha’i teacher to Asia)

–       Laurel Luther (an early West Coast Baha’i)

–       Charlotte Gillen (another early Baha’i)

–       Jim Loft (the first Canadian Baha’i of Indian/First Nations background)

–       May Maxwell (the mother of Ruhiyyih Khanum and a hostess of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Montreal)

–       Louis Gregory (an African America whom Shoghi Effendi posthumously appointed a Hand of the Cause of God)

–       Ali Kuli Khan (a Persian who settled in the United States in 1900)

The museum is open for visitors four days a week and has already hosted tours by groups and clubs interested in local history.

The grand opening celebration will be held on December 15. Jacqueline Left Hand Bull, vice chair of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, will speak, and the museum will host the premiere of Luminous Journey, a film by Anne and Tim Perry about the visit of `Abdu’l-Baha to North America