Edinburgh gains elegant center
EDINBURGH, Scotland — An elegant Baha'i center in the Scottish capital has been obtained after a united effort by the local and national Baha'i communities.
The center, at 44 Albany Street, is in the historic Georgian New Town area of the city, within the building conservation zone and close to Edinburgh's central business and shopping district.
The four-story building has many spacious rooms suitable for the reception of distinguished visitors and for meetings of the Baha'i Council for Scotland, the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Edinburgh, and the Baha'i community in general.
The search for a center began after a call in 2003 by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom to find a new center to replace the existing one, which could no longer meet the needs of the community.
Fundraising events throughout the United Kingdom began in 2004, the first donation being 35 pounds (US$62) raised by Baha'i children selling handmade bookmarks. (Baha'is do not accept donations from outside of the community's own membership).
In January 2005 a new momentum to the search for an appropriate building and to fundraising came as Baha'is from throughout the United Kingdom attended a gathering that included dramatic performance of events from the early history of the Baha'i Faith in Scotland. (See http://news.bahai.org/story.cfm?).
In April 2005 a suitable building owned by a charitable organization was put on the market. On 23 May 2005, a Baha'i holy day commemorating the founding of the Baha'i Faith in 1844, the 1.2 million pound (US$2.12 million) offer by the Baha'is was accepted by the vendors.
A spokesman for the Edinburgh Baha'i community, John Parris, said the interior of the building is spacious and elegant and gains a lot of natural light due to its southern-facing aspect.
"The style is Georgian and it gives a great feeling of dignity to the center," said Dr. Parris, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom.
Refurbished in 1999, it retains its original features, including the cornice work, a cupola, fireplaces, stairways, and distinctive curved doors, Dr. Parris said.
The center is already being used for activities of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Edinburgh, and many plans are being made for its future use to serve the community and welcome guests there.