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 practical ideal of simple living, high thinking and fellow feeling at the foundations of modern life. We seek a unity of conversation 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.


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

1. to go beyond

The "transcendental" is that which transcends the expectations of ordinary life. Yet it is ordinariness itself. It is the light of the forest. It is dawn and dusk. It is life and death and love and meaning. It is Truth and Beauty, Goodness and Unity. It the 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. We seek a transcendental transformation of ordinary life, a vision of the ideal made real.

Practical transcendentalism is embodied in the heroic ideal of "plain living and high thinking," a wisdom-ethic with deep roots among the American Indian peoples and the civilizations of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It is an unfolding conversation of many voices, seeking that harmony within us each we can all call home.

In America, this ideal is often associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson and the experiment in recovered origins undertaken by Henry Thoreau at Walden Pond in 1845. The transcendentalists of the American Renaissance sought to individuate the truths affirmed as self-evident by the founders in 1776. With the closing of the American frontier in 1890, that same ideal went to earth to give rise to the wilderness preservation movement in the West.

The Innermost House Foundation® continues that search for origins and the sources of our renewal. Innermost House has 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 hundreds of thousands of people from every state and over a hundred nations of the world.

The house forms a microcosmos to enclose a culture of high conversation, dedicated to seeking out the sources of a sustainable relation to nature in the Mythic Landscape, of creative art in the Archetypes of Craft, and of original thought in the Ideals of the Mind. We seek the renewal of our world, not by turning from it, but by turning inward of it toward the individual. We seek a marriage of nature, art and thought in the infinitude of the soul.

Innermost House is a pioneer outpost research station in the Ideal. We are engaged in a continuing experiment in "Life in the Woods," undertaken to cultivate a deeper and richer expectation of life in the world. We welcome friends everywhere to join with us in pursuing this promise of progress toward a higher humanity and a deeper home. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, we seek an abiding union in spirit as "the last best hope of earth."


To live content with small means. To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion. To be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich. To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars, birds, babes, and sages with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.

William Henry Channing

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Rightly viewed, the whole soul of man is a sort of picture gallery, a grand panorama, in which all the great facts of the universe, tracing things of time and things of eternity, are painted.

Frederick Douglass, “Pictures and Progress”

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