The first known peace flag in the world was erected at Green Acre Bahá’í School in 1894, years before the facility was called that. One of 19 Disciples of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Sarah Jane Farmer was the founder of this beautiful resort on the banks of the Piscataqua river in Eliot, Maine.
The spot is the home of many milestones for world peace and Bahá’í history. However, the most significant event in its history is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s stay at the school during His trip to America in 1912. He spent a week here staying on the third floor of the inn and gave talks on many of the principles of the Faith and the reality of all religions.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá blessed the spot with prayers and much praise which consoled Sara who had endured much hardship in the previous decade to keep the school afloat due to financial problems and tests. Some had caused difficulties for Sarah because they felt she betrayed the school by becoming a Bahá’í after traveling with friends to the Holy Land in 1900 and meeting with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Sarah was born in 1844 to a wealthy family in New Hampshire. Her mother Hannah Shapleigh was a native of Eliot and a prominent philanthropist. Her father, Moses Farmer of New Hampshire, was an electrical inventor and professor and had more than 100 patents including the fire alarm pull box still in use today.
The family moved to Eliot in 1880s and soon after in 1890, together with four men, Sarah opened a hotel-resort that catered to those seeking a place to rest and reflect. In 1892, Poet John Greenleaf Whittier stayed at the resort calling it “Green Acres.”
Sarah then began to bring teachers and speakers on the topic of world peace to the resort and aimed to bring people from divergent groups to take part in presentations about peace and the unity of religions. By the late 1890s, Green Acre was known for its open-minded dialogue and peace conferences around the world.
Green Acre was the home of the first election of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada in 1925 and housed their secretary, Horace Holley, for years. Green Acre was also believed to be an inspiration to the opening of the other Bahá’í schools in the United States and Canada.
Sarah Farmer was ill toward the end of her life and died in 1916. Many Bahá’ís helped to keep the school operational through their help and sacrifices. It was in 1941 when the facility was officially named the Green Acre Bahá’í School.
Perhaps of much solace to Sarah Farmer and Bahá’ís of the world today are the visions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the school:
This is hallowed ground made so by your vision and sacrifice. Always remember this is hallowed ground which I am pointing out to you. This is where the first Baha’i University will be built; this is where the second Baha’i Temple in the United States will be raised.
Promulgation of Universal Peace
Photo from www.centenary.bahai.us