What is it?:
The Mother Mosque of America is the oldest purpose-built mosque in the United States. A mosque is a house of worship for Muslims.
Where is it?:
1335 NW 9th Street, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Who built it?:
During the 19th century, large numbers of Christian and Muslim immigrants arrived to the United States from Syria and Lebanon. Many families settled in the midwest, making a living as farmers, peddlers or shopkeepers. As the United States suffered through World War I and the Great Depression, the Muslim families of Cedar Rapids pulled together to establish a location for organized worship, and social/cultural events to help promote and preserve their heritage. The mosque was completed in 1934.
What did it look like?:
When it was first completed, the mosque looked much like a rectangular two-story schoolhouse or country church, with no obvious Islamic architectural elements other than a small green dome over the doorway. Signs in English and Arabic identified the location as an Islamic house of worship. The first floor was used exclusively for prayer, and the upper floor for social events.
Are there still Muslims in Iowa?:
The region of eastern Iowa is now home to over 700 Muslim families who trace their origins to over 30 different countries. Some are recent immigrants, while others hail from families established in the area over four generations ago. A modern Islamic Center in Cedar Rapids was completed in the 1970s, which now houses Islamic worship and social events for local residents. The original "Mother Mosque of America" building remains as a cultural and historical center. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.