Photo Collection

Nettie Tobin and the Cornerstone of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette

May 1, 1912
Nettie Tobin and the Cornerstone of the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette
Baha'i House of Worship Wilmette, IL

Nettie Tobin

One Bahá’í who made a unique contribution to the Temple was Esther Tobin, known to her friends as Nettie. She was a loving, humble woman who earned a meager living as a seamstress. After her husband’s death in Detroit in 1892, she moved to Chicago with her two small sons, brother, and half-sister. Yet once there she could barely support her children; oftentimes she would buy groceries for the evening meal with money she earned during the same day.” At that time the Bahá’ís were all contributing to the cost of buying land and constructing the first Bahá’í House of Worship in North America. Nettie had no money to contribute. It occurred to her that stones would be needed for the construction. She found a construction site and begged the foreman for a stone. He pointed to a pile of rejects and told her to take her pick. After incredible labors she managed, with help, to get the stone to the Temple site.

On 1 May 1912 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made His way to the dedication site and called for Nettie’s stone. It was her stone that became the “Cornerstone” of the first Bahá’í House of Worship in the Western World.

— The Dawning Place, 42-48.