The constant progress of Culture is to a more interior life, to a deeper Home. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Home”


Many into One

The Innermost House Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to renewing the ideal of plain living, high thinking, and fellow feeling at the heart of American culture. We seek an underlying unity in nature, fine hand craft and thoughtful conversation as a way home to the original wholeness and harmony of the individual soul.


I have one doctrine: the infinitude of the private man.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


All for a little conversation, high, clear and spiritual!

The Innermost House Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization inspired by a series of experiments in the ideal of "plain living and high thinking" at the heart of the American experience, a spiritual ideal with still deeper roots among the Native American peoples and the civilizations of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 

The most famous American experiment in thoughtful simplicity was undertaken by Henry David Thoreau in 1845 on a woodlot owned by his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. That modest experiment would become the classic, Walden.

In 2004, a group of friends came together to renew that search for the ideal by building a cabin in the woods of California as a retreat for the "still small voice" of true conversation. Each gave what they had to its realization. Some contributed land, some design, some materials, some craft, some learning, some words, some food, some fire. The experiment became known as Innermost House, and remained for seven years a rarefied experience shared by a few friends alone. 

Now we seek to share that experience more widely. We invite a larger conversation between the voices of the nature, traditional craft, and the culture of thought. Our aim is to renew the quest for individual culture and wisdom that has inspired high conversation throughout the length and breadth of history, particularly as it culminates at the heart of the American experiment.

The radical idea that distinguishes the American aspiration is that of e pluribus unum: many voices into one. It is that promise of unity we seek to realize, where the many-ness of East and West, native and colonist, feminine and masculine, ancient and modern, is resolved into one.

We are selecting sites in several regions across the country to represent a variety of cultural climates, upon each to create an "Innermost House" as a retreat to renew a culture of simple living and high conversation. We are putting the world back together again to revisit the woodland experiment of Walden, seeking, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "a little conversation, high, clear and spiritual!" 


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