Ernest Hemingway House

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Joy S on July 26, 2011

The Hemingway house and museum is a must see in Key West. Ernest Hemingway came here in the 1930's, succumbed to the charm of the place and spent the next ten years here, drinking, writing and fishing. The house is really interesting and you can still sense his aura here sometimes.

Ernest Hemingway helped put the island of Key West on the map as a party destination with the "anything goes" attitude. He owned htis house between 1942 and 1971, but only lived in it for 10 years. Apparently the authenticity of the furnishings is disputed and few of his actual belongings remain. There are lots of photographs though where you can visualise his day to day life.

Hemingway did write A Farewell to Arms and To Have and Have Not in the study at this house. The typewriter and chair he used to write these books are on display here.

He lived here with his second wife Pauline. She was apparently very keen on Murano glass chandeliers and there are a lot of them throughout the house.

Tours begin every 10 minutes and they last around half an hour. After that you are free to explore on your own and you can stay in the house and gardens as long as you like. Our tour guide was excellent - interesting and knowledgeable and full of anecdotes about Hemingway and his antics.

The house was fairly crowded, but it is definitely worth the visit. It was built before air-conditioning, so be aware that in summer the heat is stifling. You need a couple of hours to fully explore here.

The part that is really good for children is the cats - there are more than 60 of them roaming here - they have free rein in the house and gardens. Hemingway was given a 6 toed cat by a ship's captain and some of the cats who live in the grounds are the descendents of that original cat. They are a combination of different breeds and all have names, but not all have 6 toes. Look at the website before you go - it lists all their names - we saw Harry S Truman and Audrey Hepburn amongst others. Our son loved watching the cats.

The grounds are lush and beautiful. Look out for the fountain, made from the urinal which came from Sloppy Joes Bar. The bar moved from one location to another in Key West and they took all the fixtures and fittings with them. Apparently Hemingway saw the urinal on the pavement, said to the owner that he had poured so much money down it, he felt it belonged to him. The owner told him to take it and he did, much to the displeasure of his wife!

There is a huge swimming pool in the garden. It cost $20,000 to build - the house and grounds only cost $8,000. Hemingway was angry at his wife for going ahead with this project, threw a coin at her in anger and said she may as well have his last cent! The coin is still there, preserved in the concrete.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our visit here - we loved the house and its atmosphere and hearing all the interesting stories about Ernest Hemingway. Our son loved the cats, especially those with 6 toes and watching them jump on the furniture and go anywhere and do anything they wanted.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
907 Whitehead Street
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 294-1136

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