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


A Deeper Home

The Innermost House Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to the transcendental ideal of "plain living and high thinking" at the heart of mature civilization. We seek a unity in nature, fine hand craft and the perennial ideals of the mind as a way home to the original wholeness and harmony of the individual human being.



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

1. to go beyond

The Innermost House Foundation renews that search for origins and the sources of our renewal. Our mission is to cultivate an "infinite expectation of the dawn," to realize the vision of the American founders, the Concord philosophers and the Western environmentalists. "I am ready to die out of nature and be born again," Emerson wrote, "into this new yet unapproachable America." It is Emerson's America to which we would approach.    

The radical expectation that distinguishes the American idea is that of e pluribus unum: many voices into one. We seek to realize that promise of transcendental unity, where the many voices of nature and culture, east and west, past and future, feminine and masculine, native and colonist, art and commerce and science, are resolved into the essential oneness of the individual human soul.

To comprehend the nature of such a realization, we are assembling an international conversation of voices to speak for the diverse cultural and spiritual forms that converged to shape the radical American experiment. To make that conversation practical, we are embodying it in an archetypal "Primitive Hut" set in the "Mythic Landscape" enclosing a culture of "Ideal Forms" deeply rooted in the reality of Place.

Innermost House is a modern-day Walden, a continuing experiment in "Life in the Woods" undertaken to cultivate a higher and deeper expectation of life. We are selecting land sites on which to articulate a mature culture of philosophic simplicity, to search beneath the surfaces of modern life for our unremembered origins, to seek out the sources of our renewal. 

We welcome you to join with us in pursuing this transcendental promise, one in which the whole world shares an interest. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, we seek "the last best hope of earth."

The Transcendental is that which transcends the expectations of ordinary life. It is dawn and dusk. It is Truth and Beauty. It is Goodness and Unity. It is the classic, the ideal, the immortal, the eternal. The Transcendental is the higher law and the deeper reality. It is the Word. It is the Wilderness. It is the infinitude of the Soul. 

Practical Transcendentalism is embodied in the ideal of "plain living and high thinking" at the heart of high civilization, an ethic with deep roots among the Native American peoples and the civilizations of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It is the woodland retreat of wisdom in all ages, and the heroic course of noble souls, by whatsoever name called, all over the world.

In America, this ideal is most often associated with the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the experiment in self-reliance undertaken by Henry David Thoreau on Emerson's land at Walden Pond in 1845. The American Transcendentalism of the 19th century sought to individuate the principles affirmed as universal and self-evident in the revolutionary declaration of 1776. That same ideal went to earth with the closing of the American frontier in 1890 and gave birth to the wilderness preservation movement in the West.

In 2004, a group of friends came together to continue that search for the ideal by building a solitary, 12x12-foot cabin among the redwoods of California as a retreat for serious, reflective conversation. That prototype experiment became known as Innermost House.

Innermost House has since been described as "The Most Inspiring Small House Ever," and its published record has established it among the most widely known small structures of modern times, reaching tens of thousands of people from every state and over a hundred nations of the world.


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