Louis Bourgeois (1856-1930)
“Jean-Baptiste Louis Bourgeois (b. March 19, 1856 St. Celestin de Nicolet, Quebec - d. August 20, 1930) was a Canadian architect who is best known as the designer of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, USA.
Louis Bourgeois, in his youth, worked as a clerk in a church contractor’s office Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, and through this experience planned the construction of the Church of Saint-Wenceslas in 1892. He then married Marie Gronville, who died young after having three children. His wife’s medical bills caused him to go into debt, and thus he moved to Montreal to work as an apprentice sculptor in Napoleon Bourassa’s business. Mr. Bourassa sent Louis Bourgeois to Paris, France to study, but during his time in Paris, Mr. Bougeois left his studies and travelled to other countries including Italy, Greece, Egypt and Iran.
He returned to North America in 1886 in Chicago, where he worked with Louis Sullivan. He then moved to California where he taught French to painter Paul de Longpre’s daughters. He would then marry one of de Longpre daughters, Alice.
In the winter of 1906 to 1907, while he was in New York City, Louis Bourgeois became a Bahá’í after he learned about the Bahá’í teaching on the unity of religions. He then moved to Teaneck, New Jersey to expand the Bahá’í community there.
In 1920 Louis Bourgeois’ design for the Bahá’í House of Worship in the United States was chosen by the delegates to the Bahá’í national convention. During the next decade he spent much time constructing and financing the structure, despite bouts of ill health. He died on August 20, 1930, at the age of 74, after a month of bad health. The Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois was opened in 1953.”