Abdu'l-Baha at the Rittenhouse Hotel, Philadelphia, June 1912

Abdu'l-Baha at the Rittenhouse Hotel, Philadelphia, June 1912

When Abdu’l-Baha toured the United States in 1912, he spent time at 1429 Mayfield Street in Philadelphia — home to Mary Revell and her two daughters, Jessie and Ethel. 

This was the only Baha’i home in Philadelphia that Abdu'l-Baha visited.

And while the Master visited the private homes of many early American Baha’is, only four of them are now owned by the American Baha’i community. The Revell house is one of them. Hand of the Cause Rahmatu’llah Muhajir called it “the holiest site in Philadelphia.”

In 2003, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Philadelphia purchased the property, which had become derelict. With permission from the National Spiritual Assembly we are now raising the necessary funds to fully restore the house to its original condition, when Abdu’l-Baha visited.

With your help, the Revell house is destined to become a place for reflection, gathering and pilgrimage.

The local Baha’i community has already raised nearly $116,845. But to complete the restoration we need another $62,155.

L to R: The Revell house prior to its dilapidated state; Mary Revell in front of her house; the Revell family, with Mary in the center; sisters Ethel and Jessie Revell in 1951; Jessie at the Shrine of the Bab, 1924; Jessie in the Holy Land around 1964.

Latest News



Project Report 7/21/17
Photo updates on the brownstone repair by Mara Restoration can be seen HERE:

Project Report 9/20/16 – 12/19/2016
Report by Property Managers Massoud Mohadjeri, Roya Taheri 

The Contractor has made some progress on the Revell House project in this period. A summary is as follows: 

9/20/16: Site Visit — Basement perimeter drain pipes put in with a sump pit to keep the basement dry. Dampness observed in the rear wall.

9/27/2016- 11/19/2016: HVAC Permit was acquired by contractor. Project Managers met with mechanical contractor to verify equipment and routing of ductwork. Equipment was purchased and installed. The system completed, inspected and approved. Applied for gas service in mid- October, still in progress. Basement perimeter water retention system was completed with a sump pit by late October.

11/20/2016: Meeting with the contractor, representatives of the LSA and the Property Managers at the Baha’i Center, to discuss status of the construction and schedule, with reminder about 2017 Celebrations. The contractor is behind and cannot meet the deadline by Thanksgiving. He is aiming at completing the work by Mid-February 2017. Details of next phases of project were discussed.

11/20/2016- 12/19/2016: Plumbing and electrical rough-in work started in November and is completed to date. Water turned on and tested.

Plumbing fixtures were ordered and delivered on site. By early December, interior sound attenuation and exterior wall insulation have started with drywall installation. The landing and steps to the backyard are completed.

11/25/2016- 12/19/2016: We took it upon ourselves to help the contractor in restoration of the original interior door and window trims. With the help of community volunteers, the doors and trims which were removed, catalogued and brought to the Baha’i Center by the contractor, are being stripped of paint to reach the original wood. We started on Thanksgiving and by this report the paint removal of all trims and most doors has been completed.

11/11/2016- 12/19/2016: Brick pointing has started, but a portion remains, hitting cold weather. Delayed because of the sub-contractors’ family tragedy.

Project Managers looked for masonry contractors that can repair the front brown stone before winter, with no conclusion. This must be addressed again for the spring.

We have started to look at the cabinets and appliances and have provided information to the contractor. LSA has appointed Melanie Etemad to be the Revell House Proctor and help with the interior decoration, selection /research in anticipation for spring move-in. We met with her on 12/15/2016 to share the project information and get her started on her task.

Construction Progress:

After winter break, the work of the Revell House Renovation/Restoration project has resumed with a meeting on 3/23/2016 at the site with a representative of the assembly, the contractor and the Property Managers.


7/14/2016 Meeting at the site with the contractor, after he re-instated his license and grant of the building Permit extension. Glass-block window of the basement was installed. 

7/29/2016 Meeting with the plumbing contractor, on site.  Discussed the plumbing work. The installation of fence with gate at the rear yard was completed.

8/28/2016 Meeting with the contractor, representatives of the LSA and the Property Managers at the Baha’i Center, to discuss Status of the construction and Schedule, with reminder about 2017 Celebrations.  The contractor agreed to aim at completing the work by Thanksgiving. We agreed to install Perimeter waterproofing pipe & sump at basement, due to water retention.

8/31/2016 PMs met with potential HVAC contractor at the site and discussed the HVAC plan. The Basement concrete floor edges were dug to prepare for water-proofing. PMs met again with the HVAC contractor on 9/13/2016 to finalize details of the HVAC system and ductwork locations.

9/12/2016 Reiter Roofing repaired the roof and installed the gutter and fascia in coordination with the contractor.  The coil stock used for the fascia was not enough and needs to be re-ordered and installed by the roofer later. 

Basement Window Well and Cover. 7/29/16

Basement Window Well and Cover. 7/29/16

New 6’ high Fence and Gate. 7/29/16

New 6’ high Fence and Gate. 7/29/16

Prep for Lead Water Pipe Replacement.  9/13/16       

Prep for Lead Water Pipe Replacement.  9/13/16       

Basement Water Drain Trench work, 9/13/16.         

Basement Water Drain Trench work, 9/13/16.         

New Clawfoot bath tub. 9/13/16

New Clawfoot bath tub. 9/13/16

2nd Floor Exterior Wall Insulation and Furring.                      9/13/16

2nd Floor Exterior Wall Insulation and Furring.


November 2015
• Installed: new windows and frames (except for sealing and trims remain); Typar house wrap over north and west walls under siding; fiber cement siding; laundry door; roof shingles.

• Repaired and stabilized: kitchen exterior window header and kitchen door header.

September 2 - November 5, 2015
• Contractor removed windows, protected the openings with temporary cover, and prepared for installation of new windows and door.

September 1, 2015
• A dilapidated house and a large tree at the rear of the site were removed by the city.

August 28, 2015
• Completed: Basement stairs railing

August 2015

• Completed: 1st floor new partitions framing, 2nd floor room 3 exterior wall furring and insulation, and room 5 furring. 

June + July 2015

• Contractor cleaned up debris from basement work; removed and catalogued baseboards and door and window trims.

March 2015

• Basement floor level lowered for headroom clearance 

• new concrete floor slab completed

February 2015

Window Selection and Procurement:

Property managers contacted several window manufacturers since early 2015 to get quotes and compare the quality and types of windows best suited for period design.  After careful evaluation Pella Windows provided the most flexibility and options for trim and right finishes.  Most existing broken and deteriorated windows are beyond repairs and a complete replacement is necessary. The window manufacturer representatives have been to the site meeting with the Contractor and Property Managers to finalize the profile and the trims accessories.  The order is being made. 

Historic Paint Analysis:

John Milner Associates, a Historic Preservation Specialist was retained to perform paint analysis to determine the original finish of the doors and window trims as well as floors and masonry and provide finish recommendations.

Framing of new walls on first floor.

Furring and insulation of exterior walls.

Basement: new concrete floor slab.

Paint and color analysis by a specialist.

Doors and trims removed

Paint and color analysis by a specialist.

January 2015 - Construction Log

  • Roof underlayment of the addition is installed.
  • Wall, roof framing, and sheathing with insulation completed.

  • Building wrap of the laundry room completed. 

  • Parging of basement walls still in progress.

  • Architects took measurements of completed new work; visited and contacted several window manufacturers; and sent revised schedule to each. Awaiting quotes from manufacturers for upgraded windows and doors.


December 27, 2014 - UPDATE

The Phoenix Assembly graciously allowed Massoud and Roya, as Philadelphia Baha'i Community representatives, to make a short five-minute presentation about the Revell House at the Grand Canyon Baha'i Conference in Phoenix, AZ, during the Saturday morning general session. The Assembly also provided a table at the main hall where photos and information about the Revell House were displayed. Roughly 200 Revell House leaflets were distributed during the three-day conference. Contacts were made with the LSAs of Phoenix and Scottsdale as well. The display is left in Scottsdale for further use.

December 2014 - Construction Log

  • Architects visited the site. Concrete slab is near completion with wire mesh and vapor barrier. The under slab drain pipes were roughed in. The Basement wall parging in progress.

  • A construction progress meeting was held at the Baha'i Center with the contractor to discuss the work and next milestone. 


If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact: revellhousefund@gmail.com.

UPDATE: August 30. 2017

With immense joy and gratitude we can now announce that donations have been received in exchange for all 40 bracelets.


One of the 40 framed bracelets donated by Baha'i prisoners of conscience in Iran.

Each bracelet was removed from the small piece of cardboard it was attached to and then integrated into an attractive mixed medium presentation inside a 12" x 16" gold frame with hand cut, acid free double mats. 

The bracelets were meticulously hand sewn with tiny invisible stitches into spiral shapes within two contrasting 9 pointed stars cut from various designer fabrics from around the world and appliquéd onto vintage French Provincial gold colored brocade. The stars are adorned with matching glass beads sewn by hand around the edges. 

Detailed information about the bracelets, including the number of each one, is printed on acid free card stock and stitched into the design at the bottom. Decorative paper covers the back of each frame and a sawtooth hanger is attached at the top for ease in display on the wall. 

Patterned and solid fabrics and different colors of paper match the varying colors of the bracelets, so that each finished piece is truly a one of a kind piece of artwork.


July 2, 2017


The Spiritual Assembly of Philadelphia is pleased to report that the initial phase of restoration of the Revell House — that precious home blessed by the footsteps of the Master — is nearing completion.  

We now wish to alert Baha’i friends, groups and local assemblies of an extraordinary opportunity to help raise funds for the subsequent phases of the project:

Our Assembly is deeply honored to have received an unexpected gift: forty precious bracelets of braided thread handmade by Bahá’í prisoners of conscience in Iran. 

When the prisoners learned of the project to renovate the home visited by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá they were inspired to help in the only way they could, using the limited materials available to express their devotion to Him.  

After some effort the bracelets were conveyed to us through Bahá’í contacts of the donors with their request that they be used specifically to support the Revell House restoration.  We are satisfied as to their provenance and have received the approval of the National Spiritual Assembly to offer the bracelets in exchange for funds needed to complete the project in accordance with the intention of the prisoners.

Each uniquely designed bracelet, individually numbered and beautifully mounted in an archival frame together with details of its provenance, will be offered in return for a contribution of $900 or more should you be so moved.  

Our awe and gratitude for this act of love are beyond words.  That news of the Revell House Project should have reached the ears of our brothers and sisters languishing in prison cells is in itself remarkable.  Their spontaneous and resilient response deepens even further the meaning of that sacrificial imprisonment and humbles us. 

To receive a bracelet, you may send a note along with a check made out to Philadelphia Baha'i Fund, to:


Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Philadelphia

2462 Bryn Mawr Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19131

Attn: Treasurer


Assemblies with corporate credit cards, as well as individuals, can make payment right here on this website's DONATE page. Individuals will need to enter their Baha'i I.D. and Assemblies their locality code. 

If using this method, please concurrently send an email expressing your intentions and including your mailing address.

Should you have any questions, please email the Assembly Treasurer, Lorraine Appelbaum: treasury-phila-bahai@earthlink.net