I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there,
and I am prepared to expect wonders.
Henry David Thoreau, “A Succession of Forest Trees”
Archetypal Structures: the “Seed of Home”
Most American communities are grown from a single seed, a homesteader's house of remarkably consistent confirmation from the frontiers of Appalachia to the Pacific shores. That seed house was commonly wood-built, often of hewn or whole logs, four-square, twelve to sixteen feet on a side, of single-pen design, with fireplace, loft, lean-to, and porches. It reproduced the mythic “Primitive Hut” of ancient architects' dreams, reducing all things to a powerful simplicity.
In that simple structure lay the genetic foundations of the American ideals of independence, liberty, equality, individuality, self-reliance and self-surrender. Pilgrims lived in it. Pioneers lived in it. Presidents and poor men lived in it. Freemen and enslaved peoples lived in it. Black people and white people lived in it. Frontiersmen and our forgotten ancestors lived in it. For two years, Henry Thoreau lived in it at Walden Pond. The whole world recognizes it, but no one lives in it anymore.
An Archetype Renewed: Innermost House
Innermost House is a latter-day renewal of that archetypal Seed of Home. It is a product of the frontier, and ultimately of the closing of the frontier. It is to the end and the West what the primitive log house was to the beginning: identical in essential structure, but as convergent to emergent, mature to innocent, last to first.
It is a resting place of history, in which the works of hand and mind are reconciled. Native Indian pottery, rugs and baskets, frontier axe and knife, cast iron cooking pots and treen ware, dipped beeswax candles, dulcimer and fife, oar and wooden guide boat are permanent symbols of a transcendental America, irreducible to any historical circumstance.
Innermost House stands foursquare on twelve foundations, twelve feet deep and twelve feet wide and twelve feet high. It repeats seven times the golden section of the ancient architects and geometers. It encloses the aboriginal fire of Prometheus, and it encloses the circle books written in the last light cast by that first fire.
All things begin with a seed, and return to a seed at last. Innermost House seeks a conscious transcendentalism of knowledge, a practical transcendentalism of experience, and a deliberately sought and voluntarily accepted simplicity of life and insight.