Ernest Hemingway House

Ernest Hemingway House

name = Ernest Hemingway House
nrhp_type = nhl-fl

caption = Hemingway House in Key West, Florida
location = Key West, Florida USA
lat_degrees = 24
lat_minutes = 33
lat_seconds = 08
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 81
long_minutes = 48
long_seconds = 03
long_direction = W
area =
architect =
architecture =
built = 1851cite web|url=|title=The House|accessdate=2007-02-12|work=|publisher=The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum]
designated = November 24, 1968cite web |url= |title=Hemingway, Ernest, House |publisher=National Historic Landmarks Program |accessdate=2008-09-18]
added = November 24, 1968
refnum = 68000023cite web|url=|title=National Register of Historical Places - Florida (FL), Monroe County|date=2007-02-12|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body =
The Ernest Hemingway House was the residence of author Ernest Hemingway in Key West, Florida, United States. It is located at 907 Whitehead Street, near a prominent lighthouse close to the Southern coast of the island. On November 24, 1968, it was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark.


This was Hemingway's home from 1931 to 1939. It is a private, for-profit landmark and tourist attraction now populated by six and seven-toed cats that guides claim are descendants of Hemingway's cats. The author's second son, Patrick, who lived in the house, stated in a 1994 interview in the Miami Herald's "Tropic" that his father had peacocks in Key West, but no cats; he owned cats in Cuba. In a 1972 L.A. Times interview, Hemingway's widow Mary denounced the sale of "Hemingway cats" by the owners of the house as "An outright lie. Rank exploitation of Ernest's name." The house no longer sells cats. [cite news |url= |title=Hemingway's Key West home a mix of writer's life, legend | |publisher=Cable News Network |last=Allen |first=Jamie |accessdate=2008-09-18] Ernest Hemingway converted a urinal from Sloppy Joe's bar into a water fountain. The fountain remains a prominent feature in the yard at the home.

It was in this house that he did some of his best work, including the final draft to "A Farewell to Arms," and the short story classics "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber."

The house stands at an elevation of 16 feet above sea level, but is still the second-highest site on the island. It was originally built by Asa Tift, a marine architect and salvage wrecker, in 1851 in colonial southern mansion style, out of limestone quarried from the site. As testament to its construction and location, it survived many hurricanes, and the deep basement remained, and remains, dry. [cite web |url= |title=Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum | |accessdate=2008-09-18] The house was one of the first on the island to be fitted with indoor plumbing, and the first on the island to have an upstairs bathroom with running water, fed from a roof rain cistern. Also notable are a built-in fireplace, and the first swimming pool in Key West, and the only pool within 100 miles in the late 30's. Hemingway's second wife, Pauline, spent $20,000 to have the deep well-fed pool built for her husband while he was away as a Spanish Civil War correspondent in 1938. When Hemingway returned, he was reportedly unpleasantly surprised by the cost, and exclaimed: "Well, you might as well have my last cent." This penny is embedded in concrete today near the pool. In the "Tropic" article, Patrick Hemingway referred to this story, and others told by uncertified guides at the house, as "apocryphal".

In 1935, when the visitor bureau included the house in a tourist brochure, Hemingway hired his friend, driver, and handyman Toby Bruce to build the high brick wall that surrounds it today. [ cite web |url= |title=Key West Features: Hemingway was here |publisher=Fodor's Online Travel Guide |accessdate=2008-09-18]

Another of Hemingway's loves was boxing. He set up a ring in his yard and paid local fighters to box with him as well as refereeing matches at Blue Heaven, then a saloon but now a restaurant, at 729 Thomas Street.

The grounds of the house are maintained as a garden, with many tropical plants installed after Hemingway moved to Cuba. In Hemingway's time, the grounds, like the island, were sparse and dry due to lack of water that only came later, with the Navy's installation of a water line from mainland.

The house was originally purchased by Hemingway for $8,000. It was sold after his death, empty, and without furniture or books. Although tour guides claim that certain items belonged to Hemingway, none of the furniture, books, or other items in the house, except for one chandelier, can be documented as having been owned by the author. His writer's studio, where he stayed briefly when visiting from his home in Cuba, once was connected by a second story walkway to the master bedroom. The walkway, shown in pictures from archives, has not been reconstructed. A garage on the property was built after Hemingway's departure.



External links

* [ Florida's Office of Cultural and Historical Programs]
** [ Monroe County listings]
** [ Ernest Hemingway House]
** [ Famous Floridians of Key West]
* [ MuseumRegister:Ernest Hemingway House Museum, Key West, Florida]

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