Hemingway House

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Ishtar on July 22, 2004

The word "cat house" takes on new meaning with this visit. It is unthinkable to come to Key West and not see Hemingway's house. Even if you have not read his novels, it might entice you to do so after your tour.

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.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
907 Whitehead Street
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 294-1136


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