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House of the Academy

The first home of the American Academy was the Philosophy Chamber of Harvard College. It was there, in 1779, that John Adams proposed to the Reverend Samuel Cooper his idea for the formation of an Academy. One year later, the Massachusetts legislature enacted the Charter of the Academy. For the next sixty years the new society used the Philosophy Chamber as its meeting place.

During the nineteenth century the Academy shared quarters with the Boston Athenæum and later the Massachusetts Historical Society. It next moved to 28 Newbury Street in 1904 and remained there until 1955.

For a few years the Academy was again peripatetic, borrowing meeting places from neighbors. Then an arrangement was worked out with the Brandegee Charitable Foundation, and the Academy moved to Faulkner Farm in Brookline. The Academy remained there until the completion of a brand new house, the Academy's first permanent home, designed for the Academy at 136 Irving Street in Cambridge in 1981.

Breaking ground on the new House of the Academy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The completion of the new building brought form to a two-hundred-year history of intellectual endeavor. Made possible through the vision and generosity of Edwin Land, the House of the Academy was created to provide an intimate home for scholarly thought. Its award-winning design, by the architectural firm Kallmann McKinnell & Wood, incorporates many metaphors, borrowing elements from ancient Greek cities, Renaissance Tuscan villas, and the twentieth-century American and British Arts and Crafts style. The House now stands as a “House of the Mind,” the American Academy’s national headquarters, and a center for scholarly exchange.

Norton’s Woods
Conference Center

The Norton’s Woods Conference Center at the American Academy provides an ideal environment for educational meetings, retreats, dinners, or receptions. Read more about the Academy’s conference facilities.

Guided Tour

Take a virtual tour of the Norton’s Woods Conference Center.


For more information or to request a quote:


Follow these directions to Norton’s Woods.