Dublin Inn’s connection to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá attracts publication’s interest
By Kacie Renfro
Nestled in the small town of Dublin, New Hampshire, stands a Georgian-style building that dates to 1790. Today, its simple but strong three stories are painted light blue with black shutters, and in the warmer months a plethora of flowers frame the front yard. This building, the Dublin Inn, is of great significance to members of the U.S. Bahá’í community, as it is one of the places ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stayed during His 1912 trip to North America.
Upcoming coverage by a local publication, @Home, will highlight the inn’s historical and current significance to the Faith. The feature in @Home begins:
“The Dublin Inn, one of Dublin’s most important buildings architecturally and historically, has been a significant element in the townscape since 1827. Next door to the busy Dublin Store, it’s hosted many famous visitors, but in 1912 a visitor from Palestine transformed the Inn’s future in ways no one could have foreseen.
“In August of 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, … arrived in Harrisville by train and came to Dublin via horse and buggy, staying for three weeks at the Dublin Inn, then known as French’s Tavern. He gave talks there and at the Dublin Community Church, drawing crowds, and visited with many artists in Dublin’s summer colony.”
The inn has been owned by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States since 2005, and Ruthie and Phil Gammons became its caretakers. Living in an adjacent apartment, the Gammonses manage renovations, general upkeep and all activities at the inn.
The Gammonses had already led a life of service to the Bahá’í Faith in various capacities, sharing the message of Baha’u’llah at home and abroad. They came to their current role after several years working at the Bahá’í National Center in the Chicago area. “We are originally from New England so it was like coming home,” a message from the couple says. “Our time here (17 years) has been challenging, full of joy and hard work.”
In this town with only a handful of Bahá’ís, they say, “It’s been a labor of love to introduce Dublin to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and to spread His spirit through our service at the Inn, and in town activities and committees.”
A brief look back
In 1910, a Bahá’í named Agnes Parsons made a pilgrimage to the Bahá’í holy places in Palestine. There she met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who promised that should He ever travel to the United States He would be a guest at her home in Washington, DC, and at the Dublin Inn, her summer residence in New Hampshire. He kept that promise during His 1912 visit, staying in the inn from July 25 to Aug. 15 — His longest stay any place outside New York City.
The connection between Parsons and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá persisted long after His return to the Holy Land. She continued to live a life of service, dedicated to upholding and sharing the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith.
During His visit to the United States, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá repeatedly expressed the urgency of ending racial prejudice. Years later, He directed Parsons to host a Convention for Amity Between the Races, held in Washington in 1921. It was the first of many Bahá’í-initiated race amity gatherings over several decades.
After Parsons passed away in 1934, the Dublin Inn changed hands several times before it returned to Bahá’í ownership.
As it stands today
In November 2022, as U.S. elections neared, two women came to the inn, canvassing for votes for a political party. The Gammonses shared that Bahá’ís do not engage in partisan politics and they talked about other aspects of the Bahá’í Faith. One of the women, who writes for a local publication featuring historical buildings, became interested and arranged for the Gammonses to be interviewed about the inn.
The resulting article in @Home, due to be released in the coming months, extensively cites both the Bahá’í Faith and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The woman who took pictures to go with the story had recently photographed a Bahá’í wedding in Vermont, and was also eager to learn more about the Faith. The Gammonses plan to follow up with both women and invite them back for Bahá’í events.
Not long ago, Ruthie and Phil recall, activities at the Dublin Inn were ongoing but limited. Recently a young Bahá’í family moved into the town and initiated fresh activities geared toward the engagement of younger people. The Gammonses, who had long prayed for rejuvenation of the Bahá’í community, feel their prayers were answered, with refreshed spiritual energy felt at the Dublin Inn.