Results 1-10of 19 Reviews
by Joy S
Manchester, England, United Kingdom
July 26, 2011
From journal Family Friendly Attractions in Key West
by Travel'in Gal
February 21, 2009
by two cruisers
August 20, 2006
From journal Key West Kudos
Bayside, New York
July 22, 2004
The tour is optional, and free if you want to be led around. We opted to do our own browsing, as I was anxious to see what lay ahead. We started in the living room, which is filled with pictures of Hemingway with fish (of course, there's furniture) and one particularly impressive oil portrait of him in his macho days. The next area is an anteroom where glassware was kept and opened to the kitchen. This was cordoned off, but you could see that it was large and had all the amenities for the times. The floor tiles have fish motifs.
The hallway is replete with artwork of man and sea scenes, and one is particularly striking with a three dimensional marlin built into the canvas. The living area has some items under glass, and pictures of the real "old man" who is the subject of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. He lived to be over 100 or so. We also learn a bit more about the second and third wife, and yes, there was a fourth. It seemed that every time Hemingway moved from one country to another, he remarried.
I was greeted upstairs by one of the famous six-toed cats. They are totally uninterested in the visitors, as it has become routine for them.
The bedroom is sumptuous and has access to the veranda that surrounds the upper level. Green shutters adorn the windows and doors. There is another room with a fireplace with photos of the family. We see some of his children, but nary a word about any of his granddaughters. Across the way is a wrought iron staircase, which leads to his study where he did his work. The old typewriter catches the eye immediately, as do the stuffed deer heads on two of the walls. Books line the shelves, but the area, here again is sealed off though you can a fairly good look at its contents. His mantra was to write between 400 and 800 words a day, otherwise, he would consider the day wasted
You can really get lost on the grounds; Chuck and I took separate paths and I was conducting a study of the plants and came upon a small bridge which spanned a rill that was algae ridden. It is there that I encountered my two lizard friends with which I had a staring contest. I continued walking through the various paths and thought that this could be Cuba recreated here for Ernest. Trees provide the very necessary shade and are surrounded by various species of flora. The house is the only one on the island with a pool and a basement. The elephant statues positioned by the pool look anachronistic.
From journal Keys Please!
, West Virginia
October 7, 2002
There is much of Pauline in the house: her tile collection, her custom-made cabinetry, her dressing-table porcelain. But the souvenirs of Ernest’s travels are more interesting. The headboard is from a monastery in Spain, originally a gate. There are also a 17-Century walnut Deacon’s Bench from a Spanish monastery, carved wooden African figures in the bedroom, Indian mirrors, Venetian hand-blown glass, an antique bottle safe (a bottle can be locked up in it), Cuban tile in one bathroom with a giant incense burner, a ceramic cat given to Ernest by Pablo Picasso, and the list goes on to describe a life on the inside of the art world. Hemingway is famous among literary critics for his knack for being in the right place at the right time. So were the others there, but Ernest seemed to gobble up the living with more flair. That’s the attraction of the house on Whitehead Street.
I had visited the home before in 1972, and I remembered that the tour guide then had mentioned that Ernest had brought from India the giant Banyan tree in the front yard. A ship’s captain gave him the first of his six-toed cats. And "Sloppy Joe," owner of his favorite bar, gave him the tiled urinal Ernest said he had put so much money down Joe ought to give it to him. (That’s what the cats drink from.) So, I got the picture that the writer didn’t like to have to let go of things familiar to him. The mementos of his remarkable living fill the house and the garden with interest. I left the home wondering how a man who loved living so much could shoot himself, and I remembered the
assessment of the biographer who knew him best. A. E. Hotchner in Papa
Hemingway suggests that dehydration drove him mad, a result of his being lost on the equator in Africa with nothing to drink but a bottle of gin. I subscribe to that argument.
From journal Cruising Key West on the Ship Fascination
July 19, 2006
From journal Exploring Key West
October 4, 2005
I was never a big Hemingway fan (something about the womanizing, drunken rumors that always turned me off), but the tour guides completly played up these colorful parts of Hemingway's past and made them seem almost charming. From the tales of his ex-wive's taste in decorations and her penchant to drive Ernest crazy, to the reason why he selected this house (the lighthouse acrossed the street assured he'd find his way home from the bar). It changed my opinion of Hemingway quite a bit.
The tour guides here were very knowledgable and colorful, spinning tales and yarns about Hemingway as well as giving factual information about the premises. It was very entertaining.
Perhaps my favorite part of the tour was finding out that Hemingway, like myself, was a cat lover. Almost 70 cats inhabit the grounds today and are cared for by the caretakers. Some are descendents of Hemingway's lucky cats (they have 6 toes!) and they all have names after famous writers.
This was well worth the small price of the admission and I would highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Key West!
From journal Key West, Florida
August 18, 2003
The building itself is very interesting because of the modern conveniences it boasts in a time and place where there were little. With working plumbing, via a cistern for rainwater on the roof, the Hemingway's enjoyed running water that the rest of the island did not. The pool on the grounds was built during 1937 and 1938, and was the first residential pool on the island. At the time, Ernest was serving in the Spanish Civil War. When he returned and learned that his wife had spent more building the pool than the entire house was worth at the time, he reportedly stuck a penny in the concrete and proclaimed "Well, you might as well take my last cent!". The penny is in the same spot today, preserved under glass.
Hemingway's studio is definitely a room to see on the tour. This is where he went to relax and write. Originally, he had a catwalk built into the studio directly from his bedroom so he could write immediately after he awoke. During a storm, the catwalk was destroyed. Today, stairs exist from the patio up so tourists can view the room much like it was when Ernest lived there. There are many other interesting facts that are explained during the tour.
One of the most interesting points are the six-toed cats that roam the property even today. These cats are direct descendants of Ernest's own pets. The original six-toed cat was given to him by a captain friend. There are about sixty cats present there today.
Overall, I would recommend the Hemingway House as something not to miss on a trip to Key West. The rich history is very worthwhile. The house itself is in a beautiful location, and is quite a relaxing retreat from the rest of downtown Key West. The tour guides were exceptional. Probably some of the most knowledgeable tour guides I have ever encountered. They answered many good questions throughout the tour.
From journal A quick weekend in Key West
July 27, 2001
Hemingway owned the home from 1931 until he died in 1961. The home is of the Spanish Colonial style and was constructed of native rock hewn from the grounds. It is also the first to have a pool built in Key West, an absolute necessity. The pool, built in the late 1930's, cost $20,000, a fortune back then. The price prompted Hemingway to take a penny from his pocket, press it into the wet cement of the surrounding patio, and announce jokingly, "Here, take the last penny I've got!" That penny is still there. :)
The house is gorgeous, and it's a great break from the beach and the shops of downtown.
The Museum is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The admission is: adults $8.00 and children aged 6-12 $5.00.
From journal Key West - Pure Pleasure
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
June 17, 2003
As with many of the larger Victorian properties in Key West, the house is an impressive testament to a wealthy period in the City's history. The porches that encircle the two floors of the house and the lush gardens initiate a(nother) bout of "Why don't we live somewhere warm? . . ." "We could live here . . . "
The inside of the house is interesting with period and antique furniture that belonged to Ernest Hemingway and his wife Pauline (number two of four?). What makes the visit, however, is the tour guide with their informative and humourous commentary. A life like Hemingway's is rich material for such a tour - there's nothing like stories of excessive drinking and salacious gossip to bring life to an old house. You may have to wait a few minutes but it's the difference between "It's an old house with old stuff in it" and "Aaaah . . . now that Hemingway guy really lived!"
Don't miss the writer's studio or the cats (you'll have a job to miss those) . . . and toy around with the idea of having an old bar urinal in your garden - it'll make a great story.
From journal Key West - the best way to wind down